Obama Presidency may improve US-Iran relations

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Washington, Sep 24: The results of this year's US presidential election could have a tremendous impact on Iran, as many in Tehran are hoping for a change, and are pinning their hopes on Democratic nominee Barack Obama, who favours negotiations with Iran without preconditions

Escalating international pressure over Iran's nuclear program is giving Tehran a very hard time, and officials there are struggling to curtail the impact of sanctions on the Iranian economy, the Washington Times reports. Last week, an Iranian news agency, Parseh Press, which is close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, went so far as to write that Ahmadinejad would try to meet Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

The paper said the chances of such a meeting are non-existent and would be political blunder for Obama, but Ahmadinejad is eager to end his country's enmity with the US after nearly three decades.

Ahmadinejad's own term ends in August 2009, but there are vivid signs that he expects to be re-elected and serve until 2013.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dropped a hint recently that he backs a second term for Ahmadinejad, hailing the president's efforts and urging him to plan for another four years.

In spite of the internal political conflicts in both the United States and Iran, those advocating confrontation are in an increasingly weak positions and supporters of dialogue are growing stronger.

Breaking the taboo on high-level meetings would be easier for Ahmadinejad than for anyone else in the regime, because no one can accuse him of betraying revolutionary values unlike former President Mohammad Khatami, who was harshly criticized for making concessions to improve relations with the West.

Ahmadinejad also may find it easier to relaunch a relationship with Washington if the United States elects its first Black president.

Many Iranians sympathize with Blacks in the US and see them as oppressed. The perception is so strong that during the 1979-81 hostage crisis, the hostage holders declared their solidarity with other 'oppressed minorities' and released 13 women and Blacks.

Obama's willingness to talk to Tehran without preconditions - if not at a presidential level from the start - also would help the Iranian government engage without losing face.

ANI

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