President Barack Obama says he is optimistic that "steady progress" can be made in resolving tensions between the United States and Iran. Mr. Obama spoke a few days after he called for a new start in relations between the 2 countries in a videotaped Nowruz message issued from the White House.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded to the President's message during his 80 minute Nowruz address to a gathering at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad that indicated a possible opening.
"We do not have any experience with the new U.S. President and government. We shall see and judge. You change, and we shall change our behavior as well," he said.
In a news conference, President Obama said forging a new relationship between the 2 countries will take time:
"We did a video sending a message to the Iranian people and the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And some people said, 'Well they [Iranian officials] did not immediately say there were eliminating nuclear weapons and stop funding terrorism.' Well, we didn’t expect that. We expect that we're going to make steady progress on this front."
President Obama said that for dealing with a whole range of problems, from the economic crisis to conflict in the Middle East, persistence is key. "If you stick to it, if you are persistent, then these problems can be dealt with," he said. "I'm a big believer in persistence."