Now the ball is in Obama’s court, says Ahmadinejad

April 13th, 2009 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Tehran, April 13 (IANS) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed optimism in seeing normalisations of Iran-US ties, but stressed that Tehran would not take the first step towards mending relations with Washington.
“We are realists. The important thing is the determination to bring about improvements. If you change the atmosphere, solutions can be found,” Press TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in an interview with a German weekly.

The Iranian leader said he was happy that there were talks of ending the decades-long bitterness between the two nations, but made it clear that Iran would not take the first step toward mending ties with the US.

It was Washington that severed relations with Tehran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and if the administration of President Barack Obama really wants to normalise the relations, Washington must take the first step, Ahmadinejad said in his interview with Spiegel.

He said he was optimistic about the developments, but did not except the things would change immediately.

“We cannot expect to see problems that have arisen over more than half a century resolved in only a few days. We are neither obstinate nor gullible,” he said.

The Iranian leader also hailed Obama for his message on Nowruz, Iranian New Year, but said that “verbal changes” were not “enough” to undo decades of US hostility towards the Iranian people.

Obama’s March 20 message included a promise to bring “new beginnings” to the relations with Tehran alongside accusations about the country sponsoring terrorism and pursuing nuclear weapons.

“Some passages were new, while some repeated well-known positions… It is also positive that he stresses mutual respect and honest interactions with one another on the basis of cooperation,” said the Iranian leader.

Ahmadinejad pointed out that though Obama has honest intentions of ending hostilities with the Islamic country, he would have obstacles in implementing his thoughts because of the anti-Iranian lobbies dominating policy-making in the US.

“On the one hand, America needs Iran and must newly realign itself. On the other hand, the new US president is under pressure from these groups. Courageous decisions are needed, and the ball is in Obama’s court,” he said.

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