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IRAN: Report of second letter from Obama to Tehran

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The Iranian news website Tabnak.ir is reporting that the Iranian leadership has received a letter from the Obama administration, reiterating an offer of talks between Washington and Tehran.

The report cites no named source, but Tabnak -- the brainchild of conservative Iranian politician and former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezai -- often gets insider information.

The Obama administration also reportedly sent a letter to Iran’s leadership last spring. According to Tabnak, Iran answered the communique with ‘argumentation.’

The details of Obama’s more recent letter remain unclear. But analysts speculate it seeks ways to begin negotiations between Iran and the U.S.

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Representatives of the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are huddling in Frankfurt today to discuss what to do about Iran’s nuclear program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at eventually producing weapons.

Though the U.S. often played the bad cop during the Bush administration, it appears that Washington and its European allies are swapping roles under Obama.

‘It’s noteworthy that Obama made this move at the same time that Britain, Germany and France have prepared new sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program,’ says the report, which was picked up by the website of Iran’s state-run English-language satellite news channel.

[Updated at 3:56 p.m.: The White House wouldn’t comment on the Tabnak item but acknowledged that there have been communications between the governments.

“There have been multiple ways that communication has taken place with Iran. We do not discuss the details or modalities of those communications,” a spokesman said in an e-mail.

An Iran specialist who has been informally consulted by the Obama administration said Obama sent a letter to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in early May. Khamenei responded with a letter, which Obama followed with a second letter, the analyst said.

But he added that, to his knowledge, there have been no further communications since Iran’s disputed presidential election added new strains to the relationship.]

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut, Christi Parsons and Paul Richter in Washington


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