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In his speech at Cairo University, President Barack Obama repeated his desire to resolve tensions between the United States and Iran. He noted that a "tumultuous history" stood between the 2 nations:
"In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians."
It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, said Mr. Obama, but the United States is "willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect."
Mr. Obama noted that the issue of Iran's nuclear program is a critical one:
"It is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path."
President Obama said he understood those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not:
"No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran -- should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power, if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal."
For many years, Iran defined itself in part by its opposition to the United States, said President Obama. U.S.–Iranian relations need not "remain trapped in the past," the President said. "I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward," said Mr. Obama. "The question now is not what Iran is against, but what future it wants to build."