TEHRAN, Iran, (AP) – Iran’s president is attracting some support at home for his message of congratulations to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, which several newspaper commentaries said Tuesday presented an important opportunity.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s message, sent last Thursday, was the first time an Iranian leader has offered such wishes to the winner of a U.S. presidential election since the two countries broke off relations after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy.
Most recently, the two nations have been deeply at odds over Iran’s nuclear program and what Washington says is Iran’s support for Shiite militias in Iraq — a charge that Iran denies.
The state-owned Khorshid newspaper said Ahmadinejad’s message “shattered America’s incorrect view” that the Iranian president is not open the world.
The independent Etemaad newspaper said, “The message could create an important opportunity for both sides.”
Another independent newspaper, Etemad-e Melli, reported that Ahmadinejad’s press adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, expected Obama to give “a deserving answer to the message as soon as possible.”
The American president-elect on Friday confirmed having received Ahmadinejad’s letter and said he would review it and “respond appropriately.”
In his first news conference since last week’s election, Obama declined to say Friday what proposals he might pursue in connection with Iran, but called the country’s alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons unacceptable.
“We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening,” Obama said.
Iran says its nuclear program is intended only for peaceful purposes such as energy production.
Ahmadinejad’s outreach to the United States’ next president did have some critics at home among hard-line newspapers and lawmakers who said it made Iran appear weak.
The Iranian president has been under fire recently over the country’s weakening economy.