WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama administration is seriously considering not extending invitations to Iranian diplomats for July 4 celebrations overseas, senior administration officials tell CNN.
The officials said intense discussions on the issue were taking place, but the final decision had not been made.
Late last month the State Department sent a cable to its embassies and consulates worldwide informing them they "may invite representatives from the government of Iran" to their July 4th celebrations.
The U.S. receptions marking Independence Day usually feature symbols of Americana, such as hot dogs, red-white-and-blue decorations and remarks by U.S. officials about America's founding fathers.
The Obama administration had decided to invite Iranians to the celebrations at overseas posts as part of President Obama's policy of engaging the Iranian regime.
As part of that engagement Obama videotaped a message for the Iranian people on the Persian New year and U.S. officials have engaged members of the Iranian government.
In March Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan spoke briefly with Iran's deputy foreign minister, Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh, at an Afghanistan conference in The Hague.
But officials said the violence against protesters that has ensued since the June 12 election has caused the administration to rethink the timing of such engagement.
One senior administration official said Wednesday the reconsideration of the July 4th invitations is consistent with Obama's comments Tuesday, in which he said he was "shocked and appalled" at the violence against demonstrators.
"The president said yesterday how this plays out will affect what we do," the official said.
Obama said Tuesday, "If Iran chooses a path that abides by international norms and principles, then we are interested in healing some of the wounds of 30 years in terms of U.S.-Iranian relations."
But he sidestepped questions on whether the offer to attend the celebrations still stand.
"That's a choice the Iranians are going to have to make," he said.
Officials said if such a decision is made invitations that have gone out will not be rescinded, although it was unclear whether any Iranians had accepted an invitation.
On Tuesday Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said an invitation to Iranian diplomats would send the wrong message to Iranians "who are bravely standing up for the same rights and freedoms which Americans celebrate on this day."
"The Fourth of July is a day when we celebrate democracy and reflect on the gift of freedom which all Americans cherish," she said in a statement. "The Iranian people are no less worthy of freedom and self-governance than citizens of the United States."
Administration officials believe the U.S. will engage Iran at some point to address issues of US national security, including the nuclear issue, the idea of bilateral engagement is in a holding pattern while the violence continues.
"I wouldn't say engagement is off the table, but it is certainly on ice," a senior administration official told CNN this week.