Ahmadinejad to Obama: You still have time to fix ‘bitter past' & return $2bn to Iran
US President Barack Obama should use his remaining time in office wisely and “restore people's rights” by returning $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote in a letter to the White House.
Ahmadinejad – who served as president of Iran from 2005 to 2013 and is remembered for a number of notorious statements – personally sent the message to Obama, according to Tasnim news agency.
The emotional letter, delivered to the White House via the Swiss embassy in Tehran – which represents US diplomatic interests in Iran – urges Obama to “quickly fix” the issue surrounding frozen Iranian assets.
The letter, which begins with the traditional Islamic greeting “As-salamun alaykum,” was released by the Dolate-Bahar website, which is run by Ahmadinejad’s supporters.
“You took office as the president of the United States amidst a climax in global frustration...following several decades of hegemonic policies and behavior of consecutive US administrations,” the letter states.
“Your campaign slogan was 'change' and you claimed to be determined to change those policies as well as behaviors,” it continues.
The message, which Ahmadinejad said “is by no means of political nature,” goes on to mention years of “oppression and cruelty by different American governments” against Iran.
Obama’s promise to restore ties with Tehran has never been fulfilled, “and the same hostile policies along with the same trend of enmity were pursued, in alternative ways,” the letter states. Iran believed a “compensation for the past would have been remedied” during Obama’s terms, Ahmadinejad wrote.
The message then gets straight to the point: “On June 9, 2014, a court in America, based on unfounded claims without presenting any reliable documents, issued a sentence based on which about two billion Dollars of the Iranian nation's assets would be seized unlawfully,” the letter reads.
In April, the US Supreme Court ruled that Iranian assets worth $2 billion must be paid to American families whose relatives were killed in the Beirut and Saudi Arabia military attacks blamed on Iran, which took place in 1983 and 1996, respectively.
Notably, the ruling came despite an apparent easing of tensions between Tehran and the West, and the lifting of most sanctions following a nuclear deal framework agreement.
Iran responded angrily at the time, calling the move a “highway robbery” and “property seizure.” In mid-June, it was revealed that Tehran had filed a lawsuit against Washington to the UN International Court of Justice.
People in Iran hope “that the particular case of property seizure, which fully occurred during your term in office, and actually toward the end of the term, and which is counter to all international legal principles and rules, be quickly fixed by your excellency,” Ahmadinejad wrote.
“I passionately advise you not to let the historical defamation and bitter incident be recorded under your name,” he urged, adding that Iran's “historical distrust” of the US would otherwise deepen.
“Best wishes for the health and well-being of all nations,” the letter concludes.