June 24th, 2009
12:23 PM ET
12 years ago

Officials: President Obama reconsidering July 4 invitations to Iran

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Officials said if such a decision is made invitations that have gone out will not be rescinded, although it was unclear whether any Iranians had accepted an invitation.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.

Filed under: Iran
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. seebofubar

    WOW !!!!!! That ought to scare 'em.......BAD IRANIANS.

    June 24, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Leah

    To be fair, I don't think every Iran Diplomats agree with what is going on in Iran right now. Unfortunately, they don't have any voice or any real leader to show the way.

    A smart move would be invited them anyway, and try to find out which one agrees or disagrees with their leader (if you play the right card, it's not difficult to get the answer)

    This people might prove to be useful in the near future.
    The ceiling and wall in Iran has been broken. Sooner or Later, freedom will find the way.

    By shutting the door, USA might miss the opportunity when opportunity comes knocking the door
    Just my two cents:)

    June 24, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Proud Member..Party of No

    The apple doesn't fall far from the tree....Barry is just keeping his muslim brothers happy.

    June 24, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Alfred E. Neumann

    Great – more hot dogs for moi!

    June 24, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. AK, CA

    Get them off the list.

    June 24, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. worriedmom

    duh! no brainer!

    June 24, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |

    No comments for the Obama stories (all 2 of them) . Look at the negative articles for Repubs and the hateful comments!

    June 24, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Island girl

    "The U.S. receptions marking Independence Day usually feature symbols of Americana, such as hot dogs...." LOL!, LOL!

    June 24, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. dominican mama 4 Obama

    If we've invited them in the past, not inviting them because of their "civl unrest' would not sit well diplomatically speaking. They will feel excluded, and that would translate into us making a non-verbal statement that we've sided with one side or the other. I believe that all lines of communications should be kept open as we will have to deal with whomever ultimately ends up in power in Iran. If indeed we've committed to letting them sort things out, then it should be business as usual.

    June 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. Angela TX

    The Iranians are currently fighting for their independence and you want to invite them to celebrate our own independence . Hello!

    June 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  11. decent american

    what a joke, this whole iran thing and obama is a joke. he thought he could sweet talk them, at the expense of the lives of REAL PEOPLE DYING ON THE STREETS OF IRAN. EGOMANIAC



    June 24, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. phoenix86

    Oh no, that' s putting real pressure on the Iranian dicatatorship.

    They will look at this and tell each other that the US is indeed being run by a schmuck.

    June 24, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |

    "Seriously considering"? lololol

    June 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Donkey Party

    Wouldn't inviting Iranian diplomats over for Independence Day sort of be like inviting Jews over for Christmas, or like inviting PETA to a BBQ sponsored by the NRA?

    June 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Fair is Fair

    "What took you so long?"

    – Major Garret, asking President Obama in his presser yesterday, about his statement deploring Iranian violence.

    June 24, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    If this had any meaning or import, then it would be news. It doesn't, ergo it isn't.

    Fact is, we can't really afford to do anything to sanction one side or the other in Iran's internal conflict right now. These diplomats are people placed there by the current regime and it could be interpreted as ratification of the current regime's stance and behavior. On the other hand, the greater likelihood is that the current regime will remain in power and, if we want to have NEW dialogue with them, one way of ending the OLD dialogue is opening the door to more amicable personal relationships with their leadership. It's a catch-22 to some extent, which is why the decision is fairly meaningless...dam*ed if you do, dam*ed if you don't.

    June 24, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Kate in SW Fla

    This has been a real eyeopener for the clerics in Iran. Guess what? They are no longer in charge! Ahmad..whatever his name is, was a member of the Revolutionary Guard. THEY now run the country, not the mullahs. Ahmad..whatever has replaced people all over the country and installed the military in charge of everything. Now the mullahs know it, the Iranian poeple know it, and so does everyone else. At first, it appeared as though this was about an election dispute; now we see that it is about suppression. It will be much harder for the Iranians to have another revolution since the military is so much smarter now than under the Shah. This is a real game changer. Within a week, Syria agrees to a returning US Envoy, that should tell you something real ominous is brewing. I predict Libya will be next. Iran is going to have to be contained, all the local players now realize that too!

    June 24, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. Gary

    How can we rescind the invitation when the President himself said:

    "That's a choice the Iranians are going to have to make,"

    So, it's up to the Iranian Nazis who are massacring people in Tehran today.

    June 24, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. Josue

    If Iran is allowed to attend America's Independence extravaganza, I might have reconsider my vote for Democrats in the near future. Obama's great, but Iran is not and I do not support Iran in any way shape or form for their beatings, killings, and decietful lies to their people and the world. They should not be allowed any sympathy for their actions. They are aware of what they are doing and even admit to beatings and killings as the blood is on the people's hands for trying to voice their rights for freedom. What government displays such words towards it's people? Dictatorship and uncanny individuals inflicting martial law!

    June 24, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. Cnn please post my thoughts! 1 love!

    I still think the best way forward is dialogue! What would have happened if we hadnt spoken with the Russians or the Chinese? Sometimes regardless of whats going on dialogue and diplomacy may be the best way to reach them! We cant BOMB BOMB BOMB Iran as the Republicans would suggest!

    June 24, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. ck

    Wow Barry, you've got the Iranians right where you want them!!

    LOL This president is a JOKE! THe world is laughing at us.

    June 24, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. jonathan benak

    What pray tell will this Monger and promoter of war and hatred, responsible for the economic meltdown, have any wisdom to share. May this book be only enjoyed by his and Frat Boy Bush's former white house staff. You should be ashamed, Richard. Been hunting lately?

    June 24, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. Phil

    Definitely should be uninvited. That way Obama can make sure all the ACORN officials are there to celebrate Independence Day.

    June 24, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Shari, NY

    Excuse me, but I think the Iranis would rather have some healthy tabouleh or cous cous on their plate! Seriously though I hope good diplomacy will prevail.

    June 24, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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