(TEHRAN, Iran) — An exchange of letters between President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could be the icebreaker that Washington has waited 34 years for after the two nations broke off diplomatic ties following the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry is downplaying the significance of the letter-swapping initiated by Obama following Rouhani’s rise as the country’s new leader.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Tuesday that the Iranian leader expressed his gratitude for the president’s well-wishes but added that Tehran was not pleased with the overall tone of Obama’s letter.
According to Afkham, the U.S. administration “is still adopting the language of threat while dealing with Iran. We have announced that this needs to change into the language of respect.” She did not elaborate beyond that.
The U.S. has long been at odds with Iran over its rogue nuclear program, anti-Israel stance and shaky record on human rights. It’s expected that the White House would like to see Rouhani deliver on his promise of moderation, which would certainly be a departure from the policies of Iran’s clerical leadership and Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Earlier this week, The Guardian reported that Obama and Rouhani might meet at the United Nations in New York but there was no indication from Washington or Tehran that such a meeting will take place or is even feasible.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN