The message is a complete reversal of the Bush administration’s policies and shows the Obama administration’s different approach towards reaching out to countries such as Iran and trying to engage them in a dialogue, which hasn’t existed for a while. From Foreign Policy magazine’s Web site:
“‘This is huge,’ said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a group that supports U.S. engagement with Tehran. ‘First of all, he is addressing the people and the government, which has not been done before. At one point he talks about the Islamic Republic. He's signaling he’s not looking for regime change; he’s recognizing Iran’s system.
‘You always heard Rice and Bush say 'Iranian regime,'’ Parsi noted. ‘It's a big difference.’ That doesn't mean Obama doesn’t support Iranian democratization, Parsi said. ‘But he recognizes the government that exists in Iran right now.’
Parsi also found remarkable Obama's comments that he recognized Iran has a ‘rightful role among nations.’
‘When he is saying the U.S. seeks constructive ties between the U.S., Iran, and international community,’ Parsi added, ‘that is signaling strategic intent. He is making it clear is that where he wants to end up through diplomacy which he supports is a constructive, positive relationship with Iran, to put aside our enmity. That is huge.’”
What’s strikingly different in President Obama’s message is the respect he shows the Iranian people, bringing in a historical and cultural aspect to the U.S.’s dialogue with Iran. This is in stark contrast to the Bush administration and opens up the possibility of greater dialogue, as opposed to labeling all Iran and Iranians as part of an “axis of evil.” From Foreign Policy magazine:
"Asked if Obama's message to Iran signals a concerted public diplomacy effort related to the Iran policy review underway, the White House official responded: 'He's making clear to the Iranian people and government the future that he sees for the two countries and that we're prepared to engage in direct diplomacy.'"
Here are some reactions from Iranian citizens, courtesy of BBC News. Some are positive, some are negative, but it seems like most of them call for action and changes in actual policy on both sides.