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Obama Wants to Reset US Relations With Iran

  • Zlatica Hoke

In his Nowruz message to the Iranian people, U.S. President Barack Obama called for an end to decades of mutual mistrust and fear. As the Iranians mark their new year, six world powers prepare to wrap up talks on Iran's nuclear program.

A deal would ensure Tehran's nuclear technology can only be used for peaceful purposes in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions against Iran.

President Obama believes Iran has a historic opportunity to join the international community. He urged Tehran to accept the deal which could lead to greater opportunities for Iranian people.

"More trade and ties with the world. More foreign investment and jobs, including for young Iranians," he said. "More cultural exchanges and chances for Iranian students to travel abroad. More partnerships in areas like science and technology and innovation. In other words, a nuclear deal now can help open the door to a brighter future for you - the Iranian people."

But Iran must first prove its nuclear program is not a threat, said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

"We want to see Iran become a viable member of the community of nations. We want it to give up terror. We want it to put Hezbollah out of commission. There's no need for a Hamas or Quds force. We want it to be a respectable nation that can open up and improve its economy and its social life for its people. Now, you can't do that with all the conflict that's going on," she said.

Israel is fiercely opposed to a deal with Iran, citing its links with terrorist groups. Some U.S. lawmakers also criticize the current talks with Iran.

"I would think that ideally, any negotiations with Iran would be much more encompassing. And yes, the fact that they do support Hezbollah, the fact that they are so active in Iraq, the fact that they basically have hit teams all around the world, including the Quds force, the ones that actually carry out the bombing assassinations here in Washington D.C," said Representative Peter King, Republican from New Jersey.

But others question why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects any talks with Iran.

"I do not trust in war as the best way to protect our families and though he denied it, that's really the alternative that he is advancing. We need to seek a resolution eventually of all of our differences with Iran, that cannot be done in this agreement," said representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat from Texas.

The Obama administration has acknowledged that it has many concerns regarding Iran, but they cannot all be resolved during the current talks.

"We try to keep the P5+1 talks on the nuclear issue with Iran very separate from all the other issues where we have concerns about Iranian influence whether it's support for Hezbollah, whether it's interference in Syria. We really need to address these issues separately," said Marie Harf, a State Department spokesperson.

The administration also has pointed out that the talks with Iran involve five other major world powers. On Wednesday they will try to break an impasse over sensitive nuclear research and lifting of sanctions before the end-of-March deadline for the talks.