March 21st, 2009
12:48 PM ET
14 years ago

Iranian leader: Obama's rhetoric not enough

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran would change its policy when the U.S. did so as well."]

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday he sees no change in U.S. policy toward Iran despite the U.S. promise of a "new beginning."

Khamenei said a change in rhetoric is not enough, and Washington must practice what it preaches, according to the English-language Press TV channel in Iran.

He also promised that Iran will change its policy if the United States does so as well, Press TV reported.

Khamenei's comments, which he made in a televised address to mark the start of the Iranian New Year on Friday, come a day after U.S. President Barack Obama reached out to Iran in a videotaped message.

A spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned U.S. foreign policy Friday in response to the video.

Obama's message spoke of "new beginnings" with the promise of a new year.

Full story

Filed under: Iran • President Obama
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Ted:Canada

    Go! Obama

    you can do it!

    The world has faith in you...if anybody can do – you can!

    PEACE! = for all!

    March 21, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. Flipper

    Is anyone surprised that Obama humiliated himself believing that he can reason with power-hungry autocrats? Maybe one day our naive president will learn...hopefully soon

    March 21, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. May

    I sure hope that Iran seizes the opportunity towards a better dialogue presented by President Obama's overtures. The rest of the world is sick and tired of worrying about what will happen next on that part of the planet. We deserve a break from the angst – – – and that's putting it mildly....

    Toronto, Canada

    March 21, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. thomas

    Iran, one of the most westernized countries in the middle east, was once a great friend and ally of the United States. The United States has interfered in the political affairs of Iran in the past, including their war with Iraq, and this has not helped relations between the two nations. In order for the nations of the world to prosper, they must stem their appetite for war and weapons, otherwise their people will continue to suffer. The people of some nations are not allowed to make that choice for themselves. – razicudlo

    March 21, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. bk

    Iran has figured out he is all talk. I wonder when the American people are going to. All Obama does is talk and spend our money. I wonder how the people at that Caterpiller plant are feeling after Obama told them the stimulus package was going to save their jobs and maybe hire more people. Then they layed off over 900 people last week. Obama is a fraud.

    March 21, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. gerryluimes

    Dealing with a country like Iran has been proven very difficult for anyone ; If there is some moral fortitude there,as well as in this country, then one would have to conclude that Pres.O's approach is at least a welcome touch of common sense!

    March 21, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. Leo-Australia

    It's a good beginning but the USA has a lot to answer for in Iran going back at least to 1953. Obama has many fences to mend there and elsewhere.

    March 21, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Sounds like Iranian leaders don't understand Washington policies can't change until we can sit down and talk about it. Maybe Obama will be able to clarify this with them if they truly are serious about peace.

    March 21, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    It's a start give it time.

    March 21, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. Sammy

    Well so much for trying to set a new tone to at least get things started. Obama did the same thing with the Russians and it helped getting diplomacy back on track. Sounds like the Iranian hard liners probably werent interested in diplomacy to begin with just non-negotiable demands. When someone offers you a small olive branch you can at least say thank you and leave it at that. This guy could have basically said the same thing but present it in a positive way about things mutually moving forward. As it stands I would find his attitude insulting and wouldnt do another thing until he takes his own matching step forward in making things better. At least Obama made the effort.

    March 21, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. Chipster

    Peace will only be possible when generations decide they want it. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad don't want peace but perhaps Obama's words will inspire a younger generation who will reject the blind and toothless world that their leaders offer them.

    Americans have finally rejected the policies of fear and hatred. It's a start but we must continue to deny power to those who use fear to gain power. We cannot allow ourselves to be manipulated by self-serving, false prophets.

    March 21, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. Patricia Michigan

    Good Luck President Obama. I do like your calmness and steadiness with these very difficult scarey issues. I could see where this approach could work. Peacefully. Pray for Peace.
    Sometimes I wish I could say, grow up leaders and get along. We all have to learn to live with each other. It's start with getting along with your own family, then neighbors, then communities and GOVERNMENT (now that's a tough one) 🙂 so WHY in the heck can't we TRY AND LOOK FOR THE GOOD IN EACH OTHER.
    Here we go back to principles. Iran, USA, Russia, North Korea ETC all countries. JUST RESPECT EACH OTHER. RESPECT AND HONOR. Let's try to stay out of a war and live in peace, especially now when our globel economy is bad. LET'S ALL work together and get our economy better and live together on OUR PLANET EARTH. We all have the same HOME....EARTH.

    March 21, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. Andrew

    It is understandable that the Iranian Leaders are walking on egg shells because for the past 8 years they got royally screwed by the US and its policies. I think the best process to peace and friendship would be for each nation to take it slow and just start to get their feet wet.

    Trusting relationships don't happen over night. It will only work if they start small and only then approach the big challenges like nuclear proliferation and perceptions of the US from the Middle-east and vice versa.

    March 21, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Interesting how even the Iranians have Obama pegged as all talk.

    March 21, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. SouthernMan

    I hope that Iran and the Ayatollahs don't think that Obama's willingness to talk means a willingness to debase himself or his country. President Obama has shown that he has a spine. He also has shown that even though he doesn't start fights he doesn't back down from them. Iran will be smart to remember this.

    March 21, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. Spring, NY

    Obama is wasting his time talking to Iran. He looks like comedian in Iran's eyes. Can Obama wipes out Israel? If yes, then he can keep talking with Iran. Give me a break!

    March 21, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  17. Happy with new President

    Yes, Mr. President!
    Go, make peace thru the world! We are behind you!!!!

    March 21, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. alex

    I would like to give a lot of thanks to our GOD for having helped obama to get elected as us president.i approve obama's job on foreign policy, but i ask him not to give into terrorism,GOD will bless u obama, your govenance will be succesfull

    March 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  19. Lee in TN

    Extreme Islam will never want peace with anyone who is not of the muslim religion.

    March 21, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. welches, oregon

    The American People are behind you President Obama! AT last a President who touts Peace instead of war ! Go Obama! We're behind you.

    March 21, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. CAW in MD

    Obama would do well to remember that respect is a two-way street. I definitely approve of his approach to Iran - talking rather than bluster is good. Iran speaks of needing actions, not words. I think that the US also needs some confidence-building actions from Iran, as opposed to the non-stop talking with no commensurate actions during the three years the European 3 "negotiated" with Iran over their nuclear program.

    Just to test the waters, I think Obama should offer recognition and support for Iran's nuclear energy program if Iran accepts intrusive inspection to ensure no highly enriched uranium is produced. As a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is Iran's legal right to develop civilian use nuclear energy. If Iran is serious about only wanting civilan nuclear energy, then agreeing to the extra inspections should be a no-brainer. Such a bargain would show that the US does respect the Iranian regime, and it would remove the worry of a nuclear Iran from the table. Winners all around.

    March 21, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Lori

    All our President can do is try. I am just glad that finally America is not trying to bully into submission our so-called 'enemies'. Best of luck Mr. President. We stand behind you!

    March 21, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. LAW

    Addressing the Iranian leadership with respect and wih the outstretched hand of friendship–for those who do not understand this–is tantamount to displaying our own weakness. It is precisely the wrong signal to give. Their culture is not like ours, and as long as we think it is we will blunder. They do not think like we think.

    Obama has unwittingly boosted the resolve of the Iranian leadership and driven a dagger into the heart of those within Iran who were beginning resist the Islamic extremists. We pulled the rug out from underneath them.

    Again it is proven that this is not a place for amateurs to practice diplomacy. You might win over the American people with clever platitudes like "hope and change", but the Islamic leaders better understand the concepts of strength and weakness. They will not become the obedient puppets that we are no matter how nice we are to them. It is tis niceness that they understand to be weakness.

    March 21, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. Michael

    Chicago politics and world politics have a lot in common. The politicians spout out a lot of false hopes and expensives projects that lead to higher taxes, wasted lives, and more casualties along the way.
    Obama never did much to in Chicago to show improved safety, more jobs, or fiscal oversight, yet he thinks he can get the Mullah Mobsters to stop igniting violence against Israel, or in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Mullahs won't give up their power any more than Castro or Chavez, and they all make money and stay in control by supporting chaos.

    March 21, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. lb

    Is anyone who commented old enough to remember how and what happened to establish the Islamic state if Iran? Do you all think we influence this country enough to have them accept Isreal and not want to destroy them? Do you think their development of a missle which can reach our escort ships thru the Straight of Hormuz friendly behavior? Good luck Obama and please don't be a fool by their promises!

    March 21, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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