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Not All Iranians Pleased by Rouhani-Obama Contact

  • VOA News

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, walks with and Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri, center left, at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 28, 2013.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, walks with and Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri, center left, at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 28, 2013.

Hundreds of Iranians have turned out to welcome President Hassan Rouhani home following his historic telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama.

But Iranian news reports say a smaller group of hardliners shouted "death to America" and some threw objects, including a shoe, at the Iranian president's motorcade as he left Tehran airport Saturday.

Rouhani was returning from his trip to New York, where he attended the annual opening session of the U.N. General Assembly.

Before leaving the U.S. Friday, Rouhani and Obama spoke by phone for 15 minutes. It was the first direct contact between the presidents of Iran and the United States in almost 35 years, and some see this as a signal that the long-standing diplomatic freeze between the two countries could be easing, or even nearing an end.

Iran and the United States broke off relations following the Islamic revolution in 1979 that ended Iran's monarchy, and the subsequent action by Iranian protesters who seized the U.S. embassy and held a large number of U.S. citizens hostage for more than a year.

Rouhani's English-language Twitter account first announced the news of the historic conversation.

President Obama said they discussed "ongoing efforts" to reach an agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency says U.S. officials in New York presented Rouhani with a ceremonial drinking vessel that dates back to the 7th century B.C., as a "token of goodwill."

Speaking about his talk with the Iranian president, Mr. Obama said lazte Friday that he believes the two countries can reach a comprehensive solution over Iran's nuclear program, and that even the fact of their relatively brief conversation by telephone shows the possibility of relations moving forward.

Iran has long insisted its nuclear program is peaceful. The U.S. and many of its allies disagree, and have helped impose several rounds of sanctions that have battered Iran's economy.

The Iranian leader said his election in June helped pave the way for better relations between Iran and the West.

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