TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed
overtures from President Barak Obama on Saturday, saying Tehran does
not see any change in U.S. policy under its new administration.

Khamenei's comments were the first top level
reaction to a video message Obama released Friday in which he reached
out to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian new year.

 

Khamenei holds the last word on major policy
decisions, and how Iran ultimately responds to any concrete U.S. effort
to engage the country will depend largely on his say.

In his most direct assessment of Obama and prospects
for improved ties, Khamenei said there will be no change between the
two countries unless the American president puts an end to U.S.
hostility toward Iran and brings "real changes" in foreign policy.

"They chant the slogan of change but no change is
seen in practice. We haven't seen any change," Khamenei said in his
speech, which was broadcast live on state television.

In his video message, Obama said the United States
wants to engage Iran and improve decades of strained relations, but he
also warned that a right place for Iran in the international community
"cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful
actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and
civilization."

Speaking to tens of thousands of people in the
northeastern holy city of Mashhad, Khamenei asked how Obama could
congratulate Iranians on the new year and accuse the country of
supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons in the same message.

"As long as the U.S. government continues the same
policies and directions of the previous 30 years, we will be the same
nation of the past 30 years," Khamenei said. "The Iranian nation can't
be deceived or threatened."


Khamenei said there has been no change even in Obama's language compared to that of his predecessor.

"He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran
from the first day. If you are right that change has come, where is
that change? What is the sign of that change? Make it clear for us what
has changed."

Khamenei enumerated a long list of Iranian
grievances against the United States over the past 30 years and said
the U.S. was still continuing its acts of interference in Iran's
internal affairs now.

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