President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has sent a letter congratulating President-elect Barack Obama on November 6, 2008 for his victory in the American presidential race, even though the two nations have had no diplomatic ties for nearly 30 years. Ahmadinejad has written letters to world leaders in the past, including one to President George W Bush. But this is the first time an Iranian leader has congratulated the winner of an American election, at least since the Iranian revolution. Diplomatic ties between Iran and the US were severed in 1979, when radical students attacked the US embassy in Tehran and took American diplomats hostage.
“I congratulate you for attracting the majority of votes in the election,” Ahmadinejad wrote in his letter. “As you know, opportunities that are bestowed upon humans are short lived,” he wrote, adding that he hoped Obama would make the most of the opportunity.
According to New York Times News Service, the delivery of the letter coincided with a move by the Bush administration to put more pressure on Iran by adding measures that prohibit financial institutions from helping Iranian banks, the government or others in the country, the treasury department said on November 6.
Previously, American financial institutions were allowed to handle certain money transfers that might have directly or indirectly helped Iranian interests. But the action announced on November 6 ended what the treasury department called “the last general entry point for Iranian banks”. Still, exceptions will be granted in certain cases, like individual remittances and humanitarian aid.
In his letter, Ahmadinejad said people in America and around the world expected Obama to make major changes in domestic and foreign policy, and to limit American interference in other parts of the world.
“People in the world expect war-oriented policies, occupation, bullying, deception and intimidation of nations and imposing discriminatory policies on them and international affairs, which have evoked hatred toward American leaders, to be replaced by ones advocating justice, respect for human rights, friendship and non-interference in other countries’ affairs,” the letter said
“They also want the US intervention to be limited to its borders, especially in the sensitive region of the Middle East,” it said. “It is expected to reverse the unfair attitude of the past 60 years to restore the rights of people in Palestine , Iraq and Afghanistan .”
Obama has said that he would engage in aggressive diplomacy with Iran, and that he might offer economic incentives if Iran were more cooperative on issues like terrorism and nuclear development, says the New York Times News Service.
Text of Ahmadinejad’s Letter to Obama