Leaders hail victory over foreign enemies in Persian New Year messages
In separate messages to mark Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed Iran's victory over what they said were foreign conspirators who tried to topple the Islamic Republic.
AFP - Iran's leaders in their Persian New Year messages on Saturday said that over the past year the Islamic republic had been victorious over enemies who had plotted against the nation and the revolution.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country's "alertness" had defeated its enemies, while hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Iran would "cut the hands" of its foes.
Their remarks, made in separate Nowrouz messages broadcast on state television, came after US President Barack Obama reached out to Iranians in a new year greeting earlier on Saturday. Iran begins its new year on Sunday.
"The enemy of the Islamic republic, after a lapse of 30 years, concentrated all its efforts so that it could defeat the revolution from inside," said the all-powerful Khamenei who has the final say on national issues.
"But the Iranian nation, with exceptional resistance, alertness and determination, defeated the enemy."
Khamenei has regularly blamed foreign powers, especially the United States and Britain, for the deadly unrest which erupted after Ahmadinejad's re-election last June.
Ahmadinejad warned that anyone who tried to harm the country would have their hands cut off.
"The Iranian nation will guard its national security with full strength and will decisively cut any unclean hand from any part of the globe which tries to harm it," he said.
The hardliner reiterated that his election victory was a "true" example of democracy for the world.
"The decisive vote by the nation for the president clearly outlined what path the government should take," said Ahmadinejad, whose win sparked one of Iran's worst political crises with the opposition charging it was rigged.
"The enemy tried to hide the success of the Iranian people with dust, but in reality they were rubbing their own faces with dust... They should know that the Iranian nation is more determined than last year to pursue its high goals."
Ahmadinejad is Iran's most vocal leader, but Khamenei formulates Tehran's external policies and he has blamed "wicked" Washington and London for the post-election unrest.
Earlier on Saturday Obama subtly shifted Washington's rhetoric on Iran.
A year after offering a "new beginning," Obama used his annual Nowrouz message to keep open the door to dialogue, but also reached out more to the Iranian people themselves rather than their leaders.
"Even as we continue to have differences with the Iranian government, we will sustain our commitment to a more hopeful future for the Iranian people," Obama said in his message released by the White House.
Its tone was coloured by a year which saw offers of engagement with Iran over its nuclear ambitions largely spurned, and in which Tehran cracked down on protesters after the election.
"Over the course of the last year, it is the Iranian government that has chosen to isolate itself, and to choose a self-defeating focus on the past over a commitment to build a better future," Obama said.
He also promised US efforts to "ensure that Iranians can have access to the software and Internet technology that will enable them to communicate with each other, and with the world, without fear of censorship."
Opposition supporters in Iran used social networking sites and services such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube during the post-poll unrest.
Obama vowed to hold Tehran "accountable" because he said it had refused to live up to its obligations over its nuclear programme.
The West accuses Iran of developing nuclear technology to produce atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.