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Is Iran prepared to undo 30 years of anti-Americanism?

As Obama spells out aims to engage with Iran, the Islamic Republic debates whether to step away from decades of hatred for the 'Great Satan.'

Father of the revolution: An Iranian man held a poster of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Jan. 31 at a gathering south of Tehran.

Scott Peterson/Getty Images

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"On that day when the United States of America will praise us, we should mourn," said Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

His words so captured the uncompromising anti-American ideology here that they were painted like a billboard across the old US Embassy wall in Tehran, standing for years as a message of defiance to the West.

Today the quote is gone, recently painted over as if to signify a softening of Iran's hard-line rhetoric. But as President Obama spells out his wish to engage with Iran, is the Islamic Republic – which marks its 30th anniversary next week – really ready to set aside decades of official hatred for the "Great Satan"?

That is the debate now swirling across Iran, where leaders have been sending mixed signals as they anticipate an unprecedented public effort by Washington to reach out to its archrival.

[This is Part 2 in a two-part package on Iran's view of America under Obama. To read Part 1, 'Iranians wary of Obama's approach,' click here.]

Call for global respect

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday called for a new level of global respect: "Bullying powers should learn how to speak correctly and be polite so Iran's cultured and peace-loving people listen to them," he told a rally in the northeast city of Mashad. "Iranians are logical people … and welcome anyone who offers a solution to problems of the world."


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