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The Two-Way
11:55 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei Gives Rare — If Brief — Praise For U.S.

Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he welcomed President Obama's comments that attempted to cool off tensions between the West and Iran.

The Christian Science Monitor calls it an "unprecedented praise."

"This talk is good talk and shows an exit from illusion," the AFP reports Ayatollah Khamenei told Iran's Assembly of Experts, "the 86-member body which selects the supreme leader, supervises his activities and can dismiss him."

That, however, was the end of the positive talk from Khamenei, whose government tends to call the United States, "The Great Satan."

"But the U.S. president continued saying that he wants to make the Iranian people kneel through sanctions," Khamenei continued. "This part of this speech shows the continuation of illusion in this issue."

If you remember, during his press conference on Tuesday, President Obama pressed the diplomatic angle with Iran, saying there was still "a window of opportunity where this could be resolved diplomatically."

Tensions with Iran have mounted because the west suspects it might be working on nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel would not wait "much longer" for diplomacy to halt Iran's alleged program. Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Over the past few days, tensions have eased. Iran said it would allow U.N. nuclear inspectors into a military site and the Security Council said it would come back to the negotiating table with Iran.

According to CNN, today, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Agency said that "a new chapter (has) opened."

Reuters reports that Iran's envoy to France was also somewhat concilliatory:

"'We have to try through dialogue to resolve them (issues) and reach a compromise and in my opinion it's better not to prejudge these negotiations in advance,' Ali Ahani told Reuters in an interview in Paris.

"Ahani said all parties must be realistic in their approach to talks and that the powers should not be worried by Iran's nuclear activities.

"'In this sense recognizing Iran as responsible and a signatory to the non-nuclear proliferation treaty that insists on using these technologies purely for peaceful and civilian means and to continue its enrichment for civilian purposes can help get out of the current situation,' Ahani said.

"When asked if discussions on reducing or even cutting uranium enrichment were possible, the former deputy foreign minister replied; 'No.'"

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.