- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2008

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a personal letter of congratulations to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama — the first time an Iranian leader has done so in three decades.

The letter, carried by the official Islamic Republic News Agency and emailed to The Washington Times Thursday, was typical of Ahmadinejad’s style, combining praise with a lecture to the new American leader.

“I would like to offer my congratulations on your election by the majority of the American electorate,” the Iranian wrote. “I hope you will be able to take fullest advantage of the opportunity to serve and leave behind a positive legacy by putting the real interest of people as well as equity and justice ahead and above the insatiable demands of a selfish and unworthy minority.”

Read the letter of congratulations from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to President-elect Barack Obama here (downloads pdf).

Apart from the congratulations, the tone was similar to that of a letter Ahmadinejad sent President Bush in May 2006 the first letter from an Iranian president to his American counterpart since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Neither of the two letters mentions the Iranian nuclear program, which the Bush administration and other governments say could give Iran the ability to make weapons.

Ahmadinejad did urge Obama to do something about the economic crisis which has spread from the U.S. mortage market to impact the globe. Iran, which has benefited from high oil prices, is now suffering the effects of the global recession and a precipitous drop in oil revenues.

“The American people … expect that the full potential and capabilities of the administration should be employed in order to serve the people, overcome the current economic crisis, recover their spirt and restorie their dignity and hope,” he wrote.

Ahmadinejad also urged Obama to reverse “the unjust practices of the past six decades” in the Middle East.

Obama has said he would be willing to meet with Ahmadinejad after careful preparations and talks involving lower-level officials.