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This month marks the 30th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by radical students loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days.
In Tehran, thousands of pro-government demonstrators turned out for the usual government-sponsored rally celebrating the event, and the customary chants of "Death to America" were heard. This year, however, despite an official ban on unauthorized demonstrations, thousands of anti-government protestors also took to the streets in Tehran, in the latest in a series of protests following the disputed presidential election in June. The unarmed demonstrators were once again met with violence by club-wielding security forces.
President Barack Obama marked the anniversary with a statement noting that the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran "helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust and confrontation." Mr. Obama said he has made it clear that the U.S. wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with Iran "based on mutual interests and mutual respect." For 30 years, said President Obama, "We have heard ... what the Iranian government is against; the question now, is, what kind of future it is for."
"The American people have great respect for the people of Iran and their rich history," said Mr. Obama. "The world continues to bear witness to their powerful calls for justice, and their courageous pursuit of universal rights. It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people."