The Los Angeles Times reports: Signaling a possible thaw in long-frozen relations, the Obama administration and the new leadership in Iran are communicating about Syria and are moving behind the scenes toward direct talks that both governments hope can ease the escalating confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program.
President Obama reportedly reached out to Iran’s relatively moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, through an exchange of letters in recent weeks. The pragmatist cleric is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, and after years of the United States cold-shouldering his ultraconservative predecessor, U.S. officials say it’s possible they will meet with Rouhani on the sidelines.
Beyond that, U.S. and Iranian officials are tentatively laying the groundwork for potential face-to-face talks between the two governments, the first in the rancorous 34 years since radical students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and founded the Islamic theocracy. Diplomatic relations have been broken ever since.
Both governments have issued conciliatory public statements in recent days that suggest a new willingness to scale back the tension.
Obama suggested in four TV interviews this week, for example, that Iran had played a constructive role in pushing Syrian President Bashar Assad to refrain from using chemical weapons. Iran is one of Syria’s closest allies and supplies conventional arms to Assad’s forces, so Rouhani may have considerable leverage in the Russian-led effort to disarm Syria of its toxic weapons. [Continue reading…]