NPR logo Obama Would Still Talk To Iran's Ahmadinejad


Obama Would Still Talk To Iran's Ahmadinejad

President Barack Obama told reporters today that the events in Iran haven't made him change his view that his administration would engage with newly and controversially re-elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions, a vow Obama made during the U.S. presidential campaign.

Obama said:

I have always felt that, as odious as I feel some of President Ahmadinejad 's statements (have been), as deep as the differences that exist between the United States and Iran on core issues, the use of tough hard headed diplomacy, diplomacy without illusions, is critical when it comes to pursuing a core set of national security interests...We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries.

Obama made his remarks after a White House meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Following the meeting, the White House announced the Italian government had agreed to take four Guantanamo detainees.

Obama also said he was disturbed by the increasing post-election conflict in Iran.

OBAMA: I am deeply troubled by the violence that I've been seeing on television. I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent, all those are universal values and need to be respected.

When I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting and whenever the American people see that, I think they are rightfully troubled... I would say that the world is watching and inspired by the participation.