Obama Mostly Sidesteps Iran in Mideast Speech

May 19, 2011 - 1:27 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama skipped the chance to offer a strong new condemnation of Iran in his speech on Middle East policy.

The president accused Iran Thursday of hypocrisy and reiterated U.S. opposition to the country's intolerance, illicit nuclear program and sponsorship of terror. But the president also said those views were well-known and he didn't dwell on them. Nor did he cast Iran as the bogeyman of the Middle East, as U.S. officials have in the past. Instead, Obama's speech had strong challenges to Syria and Bahrain to stop violent crackdowns.

Iran merited little more than a paragraph in the 45-minute speech. The Obama administration's outreach to Tehran has gone nowhere, although U.S. officials still hope they can lure Iran into negotiations over its nuclear program and other issues.