Tehran, Iran — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday congratulated Barack Obama on his election win - the first time an Iranian leader has offered such wishes to a U.S. president-elect since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
An analyst said Ahmadinejad's message was a gesture from the hard-line president that he is open to some sort of reconciliation with the U.S.
Obama has said he is willing to hold direct diplomacy with Iranian leaders as a way to break the impasse between the two countries or give the U.S. more credibility to press for tougher sanctions if talks fail. His policy marks a departure from the Bush administration, which has refused high-level engagements with Iran.
Ahmadinejad congratulated the Democrat on "attracting the majority of voters in the election," according to excerpts carried by the official IRNA news agency.
The Iranian leader also said he hopes Obama will "use the opportunity to serve the (American) people and leave a good name for history" during his term in office.
Iran and U.S. have no formal diplomatic relations since 1979 and the hostage drama when militant Iranian students held 52 Americans captive 444 days.
Current U.S.-Iranian relations remain tense, with Washington accusing Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and of providing support for Shiite militants who are killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq - charges Iran denies.