Obama's speech: A boost to moderates in Iran's election?(Read article summary)
Obama criticized Holocaust deniers. But Ayatollah Khamenei praised US effort at a "new image."
TEHRAN, IRAN â€“ President Barack Obamaâ€™s recognition that â€śno single speechÂ can eradicate years of mistrustâ€ť will apply in Iran, where leaders have called for deeds from Washington â€“ and not just words â€“ to ease 30 years of hostility.
As Iranians prepare to vote in June 12 presidential elections, Mr. Obamaâ€™s pledge that America was â€śready to move forwardâ€ť with â€ścourage, rectitude, and resolveâ€ť will be welcome in Tehran, despite a host of US concerns that include Iranâ€™s nuclear program and opposition to the Israel-Palestine peace process.
â€śI think the leader has accepted the principle of US talks, but he does not want to get caught in a bind,â€ť says a political analyst in Tehran, referring to Iranâ€™s supreme religious leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei. â€śWe all know itâ€™s going to happen soon after the election.â€ť
Obama made no mention of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group that Washington considers a terrorist organization. But he said â€śwhen it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive pointâ€ť that could â€ślead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.â€ť
Obama said Holocaust deniers were â€śignorant and hatefulâ€ť â€” a clear criticism of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has questioned the World War II-era event and been challenged on it by his Iranian opponents.
â€śModerates in Iran will be ecstatic with this â€” it will play well with [top opposition candidate Mir Hossein] Mousavi,â€ť says the analyst. â€śThe regime as a whole will look favorably [on Obamaâ€™s speech]. For us, the wall of mistrust is important, and this will be a first step. I think it will resonate very much in Saturdayâ€™s newspapers.â€ť
There are no papers on Friday.
Obamaâ€™s speech came just hours after Ayatollah Khamenei made a speech on Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of the founder of Iranâ€™s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Khamenei said the US aim of presenting a â€śnew imageâ€ť to the Middle East was correct because these nations â€śhate the United States from the bottom of their hearts because they have seen violence, military intervention, and discrimination.â€ť
Such a transformation would â€śnot be achieved by talking, speeches, and slogans,â€ť he said. Khamenei restated Iranâ€™s position that it was not seeking nuclear weapons, and said US accusations to the contrary were â€ślies.â€ť
â€śHe likes Obama!â€ť said one young professional upon hearing Khamenei talk. â€śDid he say anything negative about him? Or the US? Itâ€™s all about the Bush administration.â€ť