U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday welcomed the new Iranian government's pursuit of a "more moderate course," saying it should offer the basis for a breakthrough on Iran's nuclear impasse with the United Nations and the U.S. He signalled a willingness to directly engage Iran's leaders, tasking Secretary of State John Kerry with pursuing that diplomacy with Tehran.
"The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested," Obama said during an address to the UN General Assembly.
Obama did not indicate whether he will meet Tuesday with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Even a brief handshake would be significant, marking the first such encounter between U.S. and Iranian leaders in 36 years.
Obama also issued a stern message to the international body, saying its ability to handle current crises is being challenged by the dispute over what to do about Syria's chemical weapons. He called on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution that would enforce consequences on Syrian President Bashar Assad if he fails to follow a U.S.-Russian deal to turn his chemical weapon stockpiles over to the international community.
Obama also announced that the United States would provide $339 million in additional humanitarian aid to refugees and countries affected by the Syrian civil war, bringing the total U.S. aid devoted to that crisis to nearly $1.4 billion.
As the General Assembly opened, the situation in Syria was overshadowed by friendly gestures between the U.S. and Iran's new government.
'Conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable'- Barack Obama Obama said recent statements by Rouhani, a moderate cleric elected in June, should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement on Iran's disputed nuclear program.
The West has long suspected that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Tehran has consistently denied the charge.
Obama, reflecting the skepticism of many in the U.S. and around the world, said Rouhani's "conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable."
Obama said he was asking Kerry to pursue diplomatic progress with Iran, in coordination with five other world powers. Kerry will join representatives from those nations Thursday in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.
Zarif tweeted a few hours before Obama's speech, "we have a historic opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue. 5+1 needs to adjust its posture commensurate with the new Iranian approach."
It's unclear whether Kerry and Zarif will meet one-on-one on the sidelines of Thursday's meeting.
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the new Iranian government's pursuit of a "more moderate course," saying it should offer the basis for a breakthrough on Iran's nuclear impasse. He signalled a willingness to directly engage with Iran's leaders, tasking Secretary of State John Kerry with pursuing diplomacy with Tehran. (The Associated Press)Read the full article...