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Differing U.S. Presidential Statements for Persian New Year
President Obama's Nowruz message to Iran yesterday contrasted sharply with the greetings sent by President George W. Bush a year ago. Obama directed his new year's greetings to both the leaders and the people of the "Islamic Republic of Iran." Bush's message appeared aimed more at U.S. citizens who celebrate Nowruz, and he released it along with an interview with Voice of America's Persian-languag

Saturday, March 21, 2009

President Obama

I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place. . . .

You will be celebrating your new year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays -- by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope. . . .

So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.

You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create.

So on the occasion of your new year, I want you, the people and leaders of Iran, to understand the future that we seek. It's a future with renewed exchanges among our people, and greater opportunities for partnership and commerce. It's a future where the old divisions are overcome, where you and all of your neighbors and the wider world can live in greater security and greater peace.

I know that this won't be reached easily. There are those who insist that we be defined by our differences. But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago: "The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence."

President George W. Bush

Nowruz message

For the millions of people who trace their heritage to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, India, and Central Asia, Nowruz is a time to celebrate the new year with the arrival of spring. . . . Our country is proud to be a land where individuals from many different cultures can pass their traditions on to future generations. The diversity of America brings joy to our citizens and strengthens our nation during Nowruz and throughout the year.

VOA interview

The people of the United States respects the people of Iran; that we respect the traditions of Iran, the great history of Iran. We have differences with the government, but we honor the people, and we want the people to live in a free society. We believe freedom is a right for all people and that the freer the world is, the more peaceful the world is. And so my message is, please don't be discouraged by the slogans that say America doesn't like you, because we do, and we respect you. . . .

I'd say to the regime that they made decisions that have made it very difficult for the people of Iran. In other words, the Iranian leaders, in their desire to enrich uranium -- in spite of the fact that the international community has asked them not to -- has isolated a great country; and that there's a way forward. I mean, the Iranian leaders know there's a way forward, and that is verifiably suspend your enrichment and you can have new relationship with people in the U.N. Security Council, for example. It's just sad that the leadership is in many ways very stubborn, because the Iraqi -- the Iranian people are not realizing their true rights. And they're confusing people in Iraq, as well, about their desires. It's a tough period in history for the Iranian people, but it doesn't have to be that way. . . .

The people of Iran must understand that the [poor economic] conditions exist in large part because of either management by the government or isolation because of the government's decisions on foreign policy matters -- such as announcing they want to destroy countries with a nuclear weapon. It is irresponsible remarks like that which cause great credibility loss with the Iranian government, the actions of which are affecting the country.

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