Reuters: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday praised a letter sent this month by the Iranian president to his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush, in his first public comments on the unprecedented message. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday praised a letter sent this month by the Iranian president to his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush, in his first public comments on the unprecedented message.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s letter was the first publicly announced missive sent by an Iranian president to his opposite number since Washington broke ties with Tehran in 1980.
“It was a very good initiative because in the international field of global issues, taking initiatives, being brave, entering the arena pulling rivals behind you is the most important step to be taken,” Khamenei was quoted by state television as saying.
Despite its harsh criticism of U.S. policy, Iranian analysts and some officials saw the letter as a bid to open dialogue with the United States and analysts said it would probably not have been sent without Khamenei’s approval.
Under Iran’s system of clerical rule, the supreme leader and not the president has the final say in all matters of state. Until now, Khamenei has not publicly commented on the missive.
The letter was initially dismissed by Bush but, on Thursday, the U.S. president described it as “interesting”.
Iran and the United States are embroiled in a standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme, which Tehran insists is civilian but which the West says is a cover to make atomic bombs.
Bush said Ahmadinejad’s letter failed to address the West’s fears that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons.