President-elect Barack Obama will respond to a letter of congratulations from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In his first press conference since his victory in Tuesday’s elections, Obama said he was aware of the letter sent by the Iranian president, the first such congratulatory letter to a U.S. president since the 1978 Iranian revolution.
“I will be reviewing the letter from Ahmadinejad and we will respond appropriately,” Obama said, although he said it would not be in a “knee jerk fashion:” “We’ve got to think it through.”
Obama said it was important not to usurp President Bush’s prerogatives. “I am not the president and I won’t be until Jan. 20,” he said.
He added however that a priority would be to get Iran to stand down from its suspected nuclear weapons program and its support for terrorist groups. “Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable and we have to mount an international effort to keep that from happening,” he said. “Iran’s support of terrorist organizations is something that has to cease.”
During his campaign, Obama would not count out a meeting with Ahmadinejad, who has earned pariah status through his denials of the Holocaust and his gleeful predictions of Israel’s demise.