President Trump on Wednesday marked the Persian new year, Nowruz, amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
“To the Iranian people and all those around the world celebrating Nowruz: On behalf of the American people, I wish you freedom, dignity, and wealth,” Trump said in a statement.
The president recognized Iranian-Americans as “one of the most successful immigrant groups in our country’s contemporary history” who “share an affection for their ancestral heritage” despite their diverse religious backgrounds.
Trump said the holiday’s theme of new beginnings is “a sentiment that is particularly meaningful for so many Iranians who have come to our country in recent decades to make a new start in a free land.”
Until Wednesday, it was unclear whether Trump would continue the tradition issuing Nowruz greetings. He has taken a much harder line against Tehran than former President Barack Obama, who brokered a nuclear deal with the longtime U.S. foe.
Trump has twice included Iran on a list of countries whose citizens were temporarily banned from entering the country over what he said are terrorism concerns. Both executive orders on travel have been blocked by federal courts.
The president also dispatched then-national security adviser Michael Flynn to the White House briefing room to put Iran “on notice” in response to recent ballistic missile tests.
And Trump has repeatedly criticized the nuclear deal, most recently during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
“One of the things I asked him was why did President Obama sign that agreement for Iran, because nobody has been able to figure that one out,” the president said. “Maybe someday we’ll be able to figure it out.”
Obama tried to use his Nowruz messages to forge closer ties with Iran and persuade its leaders to support the nuclear agreement.