Obama appeals to Iranians on Persian new year

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama is telling the Iranian people that there is no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided.

In a message marking the Persian new year, known as Nowruz, Obama says he wants Iranians to know that “America seeks a dialogue to hear your views and understand your aspirations.” He called on the Iranian government to stop blocking its citizens’ access to outside information and to respect their universal rights.

Obama’s remarks come amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. The president says that if the Iranian government pursues a responsible path, it will be welcomed back into the international community.

Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and says it does not seek a bomb.