TEHRAN, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Political prisoners in Iran called on U.S. President Barack Obama to end sanctions and meet with Iranian leaders.
Fifty-five prominent former officials, activists, journalists and dissidents in Iran signed a letter to Obama that was published Thursday by Britain's The Guardian, the newspaper reported.
"We believe the time has come for our two countries to turn a page and start a new era of mutual understanding," read the letter.
In the letter, the political prisoners said they agree with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani that U.S. sanction have "devastating effects" on the lives of ordinary people.
"All Iranian people, including the families of political prisoners and especially the low income groups, are suffering under the burden of rampant inflation and shortages of medical supplies and other basic necessities of life," the letter reads. "The sanctions have now turned into a collective punishment imposed on the Iranian people as a whole, not the government only. The national economy has shrunk over the past couple of years and the strength of Iran as a nation-state is being reduced."
The political prisoners said they believed that Obama could end tensions between the United States and Iran if he met with Rouhani.
"In our view, the tenure of this government may be the last chance to bring this conflict to a reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution," the letter said.
However, the letter warned that "continuing with the pressure track of these past years will strengthen the belief in a significant part of the Iranian public that the United States is not genuinely interested in resolving the conflict".