In his last book, President Obama recounted his early exchange of letters with Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei:
For all these reasons, my team and I had spent much of the transition discussing how to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon—ideally through diplomacy rather than by starting another war. We settled on a two-step strategy. Because there had been almost no high-level contact between the United States and Iran since 1980, step one involved direct outreach. As I’d said in my inaugural address, we were ready to extend a hand to those willing to unclench their fists. Within weeks of taking office, I’d sent a secret letter to Ayatollah Khamenei through a channel we had with Iranian diplomats at the United Nations, suggesting that we open a dialogue between our two countries on a range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program. Khamenei’s answer was blunt: Iran had no interest in direct talks. He did, however, take the opportunity to suggest ways the United States could stop being an imperialist bully.
“Guess he’s not unclenching his fist anytime soon,” Rahm said after reading a copy of Khamenei’s letter, which had been translated from Farsi.”
“Only enough to give me the middle finger,” I said.”