Obama calls for new relationship with Iran on anniversay of embassy takeover

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

President Obama today called for a new relationship with Iran in a statement that marked the 30th anniversary of the takeover by Iranian militants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

The seizure of the embassy by radical students marked the beginning of Iran’s turn to hard-line policies. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

“This event helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust and confrontation,” Obama said in his statement. “I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect.”

The United States and its allies are pressing Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions and to end the processing of uranium that could be used to make a weapon. Iran insists its nuclear program is for the peaceful generation of electricity.

The United States has called for stepped-up sanctions if Iran continues its policy, which is being negotiated.

In Iran, violence marked the anniversary as protesters and security forces clashed. Obama praised those in Iran who are working for rights.

Earlier, Obama in his statement praised protesters who took to the streets after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in June.

“The world continues to bear witness to their powerful calls for justice, and their courageous pursuit of universal rights,’ Obama said. “It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people.”