Obama speaks to president of Iran in first talk since 1979

The New York Times reports: The long-fractured relationship between the United States and Iran took a significant turn on Friday when President Obama and President Hassan Rouhani became the first leaders of their countries to speak since the rupture of the Tehran hostage crisis more than three decades ago.

In a hurriedly arranged telephone call, Mr. Obama reached Mr. Rouhani as the Iranian leader was headed to the airport to leave New York after a whirlwind news media and diplomatic blitz. The two agreed to accelerate talks aimed at defusing the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and afterward expressed optimism at the prospect of a rapprochement that would transform the Middle East.

“Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” Mr. Obama, referring to Tehran’s nuclear program, told reporters at the White House after the 15-minute phone call. “It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region.”

On Twitter after the call, Mr. Rouhani wrote, “In regards to nuclear issue, with political will, there is a way to rapidly solve the matter.” He added that he told Mr. Obama, “We’re hopeful about what we will see from” the United States and other major powers “in coming weeks and months.”

The conversation was the first between Iranian and American leaders since 1979 when President Jimmy Carter spoke by telephone with Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi shortly before the shah left the country, according to Iran experts. [Continue reading...]

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  1. Ajax Lessome says:

    A single phone conversation between the American and Iranian presidents is not a sign that relations will be quickly restored. Any negotiations with Iran should be met with caution and skepticism. Iran’s verbal overtures are contradicted by their actions as exemplified by its backing terrorists in Iraq and Lebanon and assisting Assad in his brutal murder of over 100,000 Syrians. The international community should be extremely worried that Iran is seeking nuclear fuel outside of the approved avenues of low-enriched nuclear fuel rods, but is instead seeking raw mineral that it can enrich itself to weapon grade. Iran poses an even bigger threat, since its nuclear arms stockpile is thought to be the largest in the Middle East, with longer-range missiles currently in the planning stages. If Iran wants nuclear power for peaceful uses, it has to submit to inspection and buy fuel rods and not enrich its own. Rouhani is probably just buying Iran’s nuclear engineers as time to get closer to their goal of a weapon that would destabilize the Middle East. At that point, Khamenei and Rouhani will have achieved their objective of a nuclear armed Iran with a stable economy and regional dominance. Actions speak louder than words and so far Iran has merely engaged in rhetoric and nothing more. Pursuing a diplomatic solution with Iran is desirable, but we need to see Iran change its ways not just its words. Iran also needs to clean up its human rights record and halt the barbaric practice of public hangings, as well as reopen dissident news media and release political and religious prisoners. Iran also needs to halt its foreign adventures in supporting terror groups and smuggling arms in places like Syria. I am highly doubtful that this will occur given his long and loyal service to the regime. Sanctions can be quickly lifted if Iran’s leaders, especially Khamenei, took some of these steps, but I am not hopeful of such a change in direction. Sanctions shouldn’t be lifted simply based on promises, but on concrete action.