The Cable

Obama on Iran: diplomacy without illusions

As anticipated, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke on Iran during his appearance with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi this evening. And he reiterated, according to the pool report filed by McClatchy’s Steve Thomma, the message Vice President Joseph Biden said Sunday: that Washington intends to try to engage Iran despite the election dispute, because it ...

As anticipated, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke on Iran during his appearance with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi this evening. And he reiterated, according to the pool report filed by McClatchy’s Steve Thomma, the message Vice President Joseph Biden said Sunday: that Washington intends to try to engage Iran despite the election dispute, because it considers it in U.S. interests to do so. But he also told the Iranian people that "the world is watching" and is "inspired" by the participation:

"I have always felt that, as odious a I feel some of President Ahmadinejad’s statements (are), as deep as the differences that exist between the United States and Iran on core  issues,  the use of tough hard headed diplomacy, diplomacy without illusions, is critical when it comes to pursuing a core set of national security interests….

"We will continue to pursue a tough direct dialogue between our two countries."

He also said he and the world are watching the protests of Iranians who think their votes were stolen.

"I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television. I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent, all those are universal values and need to be respected," he said.

"When I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting….and whenever the American people see that, I think they are rightfully troubled.

To those people, he added, "I would say that the world is watching and inspired by the participation."

With no independent U.S. observers of the election, the president added, according to Thomma, that "he could not comment on allegations of vote fraud. He noted that the Iranian government promised an investigation, and said he hoped it would be done fairly and without any further violence."

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