U.S. President Barack Obama asked for direct talks with Iran in a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to Ali Motahari, an Iranian lawmaker and member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee. In an interview Wednesday with Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency, Motahari said the first half of the letter consisted of threats laying out actions that would be taken if Tehran crossed the "red line" of closing the energy-vital Strait of Hormuz; the second half included a request from Obama for direct talks with Iran. The official spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, confirmed that the letter had been received and added that Iran was deliberating a response.
News of the supposedly secret letter first emerged last Friday, when The New York Times reported that the Obama administration was relying on a secret channel of communication to warn the supreme leader of Iran of the consequences of crossing the line in threatening the Strait of Hormuz. Two days later, Iranian media quoted Mehmanparast as confirming receipt of the U.S. letter. He also clarified the channels through which the letter was disseminated: Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, delivered the missive to her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Khazaee. The Swiss ambassador to Tehran, Livia Leu Agosti, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani also conveyed a similar message to the Iranian leadership, according to Mehmanparsat.