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Obama To Iranians: 'Best Opportunity In Decades' For A Different Future

President Obama is using a Nowruz message to tell Iranians that "we have the best opportunity in decades to pursue a different future between our countries."

"The days and weeks ahead will be critical. Our negotiations have made progress, but gaps remain. And there are people, in both our countries and beyond, who oppose a diplomatic resolution," Obama says in the message to mark the Persian new year. "My message to you — the people of Iran — is that, together, we have to speak up for the future we seek."

You can watch the view below (a version with Farsi subtitles was also posted on the White House website):

The U.S. and its allies — Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany — are engaged in talks with Iran over the Islamic republic's nuclear program. The talks "have made progress, but gaps remain," Obama said, adding: "The days and weeks ahead will be critical."

Obama said Iran must take "meaningful, verifiable steps" to assure the world its nuclear program is peaceful. He added:

"In this sense, Iran's leaders have a choice between two paths. If they cannot agree to a reasonable deal, they will keep Iran on the path it's on today — a path that has isolated Iran, and the Iranian people, from so much of the world, caused so much hardship for Iranian families, and deprived so many young Iranians of the jobs and opportunities they deserve.

On the other hand, if Iran's leaders can agree to a reasonable deal, it can lead to a better path — the path of greater opportunities for the Iranian people. More trade and ties with the world. More foreign investment and jobs, including for young Iranians. More cultural exchanges and chances for Iranian students to travel abroad. More partnerships in areas like science and technology and innovation. In other words, a nuclear deal now can help open the door to a brighter future for you — the Iranian people, who, as heirs to a great civilization, have so much to give to the world."

The talks with Iran are opposed by several U.S. allies, including Israel, as well as members of both parties in Congress.

U.S. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the panel's ranking members, announced Friday that the panel will vote on a measure April 14 that would prohibit suspension of congressional sanctions for 60 days after the president submits any comprehensive Iran nuclear agreement to Congress. That should give the White House some breathing room because the deadline to reach a deal with Iran is late March.

The statement from Corker and Menendez follows a letter written by 47 Republican senators to Iran's supreme leader suggesting any deal reached would lapse the day Obama left office. The White House has dismissed that letter.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.