President Obama, showing his command of YouTube once again, wishes the Iranian people a happy Nowruz:
So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran’s leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.
You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right — but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create.
Unsurprisingly, the initial reaction from Iranian leaders wasn’t very enthusiastic. But it’s still a constructive gesture. Symbols matter, and they make the substance a little easier to address when the time comes to talk substance. I just hope they got the Persian subtitles right.