During a conference at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) examining the future of US-Iran relations, RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said that "President Obama has a golden opportunity to pursue a bottom-to-top approach with Iran that focuses on building ties with ordinary Iranians." [watch the full speech on C-SPAN
/ listen here
Gedmin said international broadcasters such as the BBC, VOA, and RFE/RL are a key component of this strategy insofar as they connect ordinary Iranians with the outside world.
"RFE/RL's Persian Service, Radio Farda, gets hundreds of SMS messages each day from listeners in Iran who depend on us for unbiased news and information," he said. "Providing people with news outside the control of the regime promotes respectful dissent, fosters debate, and contributes to the growth of civil society."
Gedmin was the keynote speaker at AEI's day-long conference, The Imam Returned: Thirty Years of Revolution in Iran
. The gathering drew scholars, government officials and other experts to explore current US-Iran ties and make recommendations for the future.
"The nuclear crisis, while the most urgent problem to solve, cannot be the only issue that defines our Iran agenda," he said. "The US needs a comprehensive approach to Tehran where we not only deal with the government over the nuclear dispute and regional security, but one that engages the Iranian public through cultural exchanges and support for civil rights, human rights, and democracy."