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On March 20th President Barack Obama released a video message on the White House website for all those celebrating Nowruz. After committing his administration to a future of honest and respectful diplomacy, the President decided to send a special message to the people and government of Iran, acknowledging the strain in our relations over the last few decades.
"But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together," he said:
"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."
In his video message with Farsi subtitles, President Obama called Persian culture "great and celebrated" with centuries-long contributions in art, music, literature and innovation. The message included a quote from the Persian poet Saadi, who wrote, "The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence":
"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."
President Obama said he seeks a future with Iran that includes renewed exchanges between Iranians and Americans and greater opportunities for partnership and commerce:
"It's a future where the old divisions are overcome, where you and all of your neighbors and the wider world can live in greater security and greater peace."
Such a future "won't be reached easily," said President Obama. But he rejected those who insist that the U.S. and Iran be defined by their differences. "With the coming of a new season, we're reminded of [the] precious humanity we all share," Mr. Obama said. "And we can once again call upon this spirit as we seek the promise of a new beginning."