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US Denies Conciliatory Iran Letter Planned


The U.S. State Department has denied a British newspaper report that the Obama administration is drafting a "conciliatory" letter to Iran.

White House and State Department spokesmen said Thursday nobody from the administration has asked anyone at either place to prepare such a letter. The State Department spokesman added he could not rule out the possibility that someone at State had taken the initiative to write one.

The Guardian newspaper said it learned that the U.S. State Department was working on a letter aimed at unfreezing U.S.-Iranian relations. The paper said it was a response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter of congratulations to Mr. Obama on his election.

President Obama has said he is reviewing Mr. Ahmadinejad's letter and will respond appropriately.

In an interview earlier this week with the al-Arabiya television network, Mr. Obama said warmer relations with the Islamic nation are possible.

In the interview, President Obama repeated his inaugural address pledge to extend a hand to countries such as Iran if they are "willing to unclench their fist."

Mr. Obama promised to lay out a general framework and approach over the next several months on how the U.S. will proceed with Iran.

Thursday, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country believes that if Mr. Obama changes U.S. policy in the Middle East, the U.S. president will find a more "cooperative" region.

On Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad called on the Obama administration to make fundamental changes to U.S. foreign policies. He said Washington must apologize for what he called 60 years of crimes against the Iranian people and withdraw its troops from around the world.

The U.S. has a strong military presence on both sides of Iran, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have urged Iran to end its controversial uranium enrichment program and what they call the country's activities supporting terror in the Middle East.

Mr. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, ruled out a general dialogue with Tehran due to Iran's defiance of international demands that it stop controversial parts of its nuclear program.

Washington and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program - a charge Tehran denies.

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