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Obama’s Iranian charm offensive

Washington wants to start again with Tehran, but Iran is finding it hard to respond. The June presidential election could change this

President Obama’s television address to the people of Iran on 20th March, on the occasion of the Iranian new year, was a neat bit of drama. For the sizeable (if unquantifiable) minority of Iranians who watched, via illegal satellites installed on their roofs, it was an exhilarating departure from the alternately menacing and schoolmasterly approach of George W Bush. Even those reading the mostly sceptical commentary in the closely controlled Iranian press must have taken a small thrill from the American president’s “happy holiday” in Persian, or his quote from the Iranian poet Sa’di. By inviting the “Islamic Republic of…

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