WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States said Monday its invitations were still standing for Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 celebrations at US embassies despite the crackdown on opposition supporters.
President Barack Obama's administration said earlier this month it would invite Iran to US embassy barbecues for the national holiday for the first time since the two nations severed relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"There's no thought to rescinding the invitations to Iranian diplomats," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.
"We have made a strategic decision to engage on a number of fronts with Iran," Kelly said. "We tried many years of isolation, and we're pursuing a different path now."
But he said it was not clear if Iranian diplomats had accepted the invitations.
The State Department has said that the invitations are largely a symbolic gesture of goodwill and that the July 4 barbecues were not intended to take up substantive policy matters.
Obama has walked a tightrope since the violence broke out in Iran, urging the Islamic regime to end its repression of protests but insisting he will not let Tehran's leaders cast the United States as a bogeyman.
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