President Barack Obama said Thursday a nuclear agreement with Iran can open up “new possibilities and prosperity” for the Iranian people.
Obama’s comments came in his annual videotaped message to Iranians marking the Persian new year, Nowruz. This year’s message coincided with the closing of the latest round of nuclear negotiations between the US, Iran and five other world powers.
Obama said reaching a final nuclear agreement “will be difficult.” But he said he’s committed to diplomacy because he believes there is a basis for a “practical solution” to the nuclear dispute.
The president said Iran would retain access to “peaceful nuclear energy” under a final agreement. He said a deal would also mean more economic growth and jobs for Iranians, as well as more opportunities for Iranian students to travel abroad.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also wished the Iranian people a “happy, healthy, and prosperous Nowruz” on Thursday, and pledged to ease the process for Iranian students seeking to study in the United States.
“It’s not lost on any of us that the United States and Iran have endured harsh winters in our past, but gathering to welcome Spring and the New Year with friends and family is an opportunity to look forward to what can lie ahead with hard work and commitment,” Kerry said in a statement, in an apparent reference to the ongoing nuclear talks.
In the statement, Kerry announced that the treasury “will enhance educational ties between Iran and the United States through exchanges and the provision of new opportunities for Iranians to study in our country.”
Nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers were “substantive and useful” and the parties will meet again on April 7-9, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday
“We had substantive and useful discussions covering a set of issues including (uranium) enrichment, the Arak reactor, civil nuclear cooperation and sanctions,” Ashton told reporters in Vienna.
Earlier in the day, senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi said that it was “too early to enter into negotiations for drafting a text for a final agreement.”
The Vienna gathering was the second in a series of meetings aimed at transforming a November interim deal into a lasting accord that resolves for good the decade-old standoff over Iran’s nuclear drive which the west suspects masks a military objective, despite repeated denials.
Under November’s interim deal with the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, known as the P5+1, Tehran froze certain nuclear activities for six months in exchange for relief from punishing sanctions hitting its economy.
Although it could be extended, the deal is currently due to expire on July 20.