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Iran on Obama: Change? Where?

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed overtures from President Barak Obama on Saturday, saying Tehran does not see any change in US policy under new administration.

world Updated: Mar 22, 2009 02:39 IST

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed overtures from President Barak Obama on Saturday, saying Tehran does not see any change in US policy under new administration.

Khamenei's comments were the first top level reaction to a video message Obama released Friday in which he reached out to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian new year. Khamenei holds the last word on major policy decisions, and how Iran ultimately responds to any concrete US effort to engage the country will depend largely on his say.

In his most direct assessment of Obama and prospects for improved ties, Khamenei said there will be no change between the two countries unless the American president puts an end to US hostility toward Iran and brings “real changes” in foreign policy.

“They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven't seen any change,” Khamenei said in his speech. Speaking to tens of thousands of people in Mashhad, Khamenei asked how Obama could congratulate Iranians on the new year and accuse the country of supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons in the same message.

“As long as the US government continues the same policies and directions of the previous 30 years, we will be the same nation of the past 30 years,” Khamenei said. Khamenei said there has been no change even in Obama's language compared to that of his predecessor.

“He (Obama) insulted Iran from the first day. If you are right that change has come, where is that change? What is the sign of that change? Make it clear for us what has changed."