WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, in a message to the Iranian people, said Friday the United States seeks "engagement that is honest" with Iran. In a video message released by the White House, Obama addressed Iranians on the occasion of Nowruz, the first day of spring and of Iran's new year. "In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Obama said. But he warned Iran's leaders that their access to what he called Iran's "rightful place in the community of nations" would not be advanced by threats or by "terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions." The president's message - released with Persian (Farsi) subtitles to some broadcasters in the Middle East - echoed sentiments in Obama's first televised interview from the White House in January in which he hinted at a new openness towards Iran. After observing that Iranian culture has "made the world a better and more beautiful place" and that Iran's is "a great civilization," the president reminded viewers that relations between Iran and the United States have been "strained" for almost 30 years. He said Nowruz offers the promise of "a new day, the promise of opportunity for our children, security for our families, progress for our communities, and peace between nations. "My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. "This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect." Obama said the United States seeks renewed exchanges among US and Iranian people as well as "greater opportunities for partnership and commerce". AFP adds: Iran on Friday welcomed US President Barack Obama's olive branch to Tehran but urged him to take concrete steps to repair mistakes that have frozen ties between the two nations for three decades. "We welcome the wish of the president of the United States to put away past differences," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's press advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr said in reaction to Obama's message at Nowruz. "But the way to do that is not by Iran forgetting the previous hostile and aggressive attitude of the United States," Javanfekr said, responding when AFP read to him extracts of Obama's statement. "The American administration has to recognise its past mistakes and repair them as a way to put away the differences." In Istanbul on the sidelines of the World Water Forum, Iranian Energy Minister Parviz Fattah said that Obama's message was "positive" but had to be followed by "positive action." "The Iranian leaders will precisely assess this message. We believe that we need that in addition to messages we need positive action from Mr Obama as well as from his government. So in addition to talk, we need actions," he said. Fattah said Tehran's nuclear programme would not be derailed despite "positive" overtures by President Obama. A nuclear plant at Bushehr will start operations by year's end, Fattah said, insisting that the programme - suspected by the United States and Europe to be a covert effort to build an atomic bomb - was peaceful. Meanwhile, the United States has a set of next steps planned to encourage dialogue with Tehran after the release of President Barack Obama's video message to Iran's leaders and people, the White House said Friday. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked whether it was hoped the message released earlier would be the start of an ongoing dialogue with Iran, which Obama has pledged to engage despite decades of US-Iranian animosity. "Without getting into what next, obviously there will need to be some evaluation over all with our policies," Gibbs told reporters. Prodded as to whether a "step two" had already been gamed out on paper, Gibbs added: "There is, and there are many more, but none of which I am going to get into today."