During a nine-day provincial tour, Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei pushed for voter participation in upcoming elections, but also suggested that a directly elected president might become a thing of the past.
Iran's leadership may be keen to offer a goodwill gesture, some observers suggest. Others wonder if the release of the two US hikers is tied to the controversy over Iran's nuclear program.
Iran has embraced a Russian proposal to restart nuclear negotiations with the international community, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's political rivals may try to block the talks.
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: A roster of influential former US officials is speaking at rallies in support of removing the MEK, an Iranian opposition group with a violent anti-American history, from the US terrorist list. A decision is expected within weeks.
Iran state media reported Thursday that an American in Iran was detained for having espionage equipment in her mouth. For Americans – be they hikers or businessmen – Iran can be a forbidding destination if the visitors are perceived as potential spies.
Despite intensified sanctions on Iran, US-based nongovernmental organizations are trying to prove that they should be allowed to work in the country. The process is daunting enough that many groups give up.
Instead of expressing support for participants in Iranian protests, which the regime could use against them, the Obama administration is focusing on Iran’s human rights violations.
The tentative Iran nuclear deal could be the beginning of a shift from a dominant antagonism to an openness to addressing mutual interests, some diplomatic experts say.
But the Oct. 1 meeting may simply set the stage for the US to seek tougher sanctions against Tehran for its nuclear program.
Twitter, Youtube, and the force of the movement for change in Iran make it difficult for the government to paint the protesters as tools of foreign powers.