Obama says saving pastor Saeed Abedini from Iranian prison is 'top priority' for the US

Pastor Saeed Abedini and his family

President Barack Obama met Naghmeh Abedini, wife of an imprisoned American pastor in Iran, on Thursday and told her that freeing her husband is a top priority.

Obama took the time to meet Naghmeh hours after his seventh State of the Nation address in Boise, Idaho, where Pastor Saeed Abedini is from.

The ten-minute private meeting was a response to Naghmeh's letter of request, backed up by a signed petition of more than 100,000 people, to have a face-to-face meeting with the President.

Naghmeh wrote, "I hoped that I would get a call, or an invitation to see you and to speak with you.

"To have you look into my eyes and see the piercing pain that has been there since my husband's imprisonment; to see my kids and to know that they have missed the warm embrace of their dad for nearly three years."

"You are a father," Naghmeh continued. "Imagine the pain and anguish Saeed has experienced knowing that he has missed seeing his children grow up. The last time Saeed held his daughter she was 5; now she is 8. Imagine the repeated nightly cries of my children, only for them to wake up each morning to that reality that his absence was not a bad dream. You are a father, so I ask you to imagine."

According to Christianity Today, Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor, has been a frequent visitor to Iran over the years and had been previously warned by the Muslim government over his involvement with house churches.

Saeed returned to Iran to help build a government-approved orphanage but was arrested and charged with undermining national security and was sentenced prison for eight years, where he has been since 2012.

His confinement has not been easy as he suffered numerous beatings and received insults over his faith. In a letter released through the American Center for Law and Justice, Saeed stated that more than his isolation and harsh condition, the most shattering pain is being away from his family.

Naghmeh expressed her gratitude for the President's response and said his visit would restore the faith of the American people that their President cares and is committed to taking action on their behalf.

"I am extremely thankful the President took the time to meet with our family and told us that securing the release of my husband is a top priority," she said.  

"The President was focused and gracious—showing concern to me and my children. I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer, and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed's release.

"The President repeated his desire to do all that he can to bring Saeed home. That means the world to me and my children and has given me a renewed sense of hope," Naghmeh said to ACLJ.