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Divide Seen Between Iran's Supreme Leader, Rouhani

Iran's supreme leader has voiced support for President Hassan Rouhani's overtures to the West, but he says some aspects of Mr. Rouhani's trip to New York last month were "not appropriate."

In remarks posted Saturday on his website, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not elaborate on his objections, but it would appear they center on the Iranian president's conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama.

The ayatollah said the U.S. government is not trustworthy and breaks its promises.

A 15-minute telephone conversation between Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani on September 20 was the first direct contact between the two countries' top leadership in nearly 35 years. The informal contact capped a week of outreach to the West by Mr. Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, during the annual opening session of the U.N. General Assembly.



The commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, also has criticized Mr. Rouhani's telephone diplomacy, calling the conversation with President Obama a "tactical mistake."

The issue underlying the two presidents' conversation - and most all other aspects of the arms-length relationship between Washington and Tehran - concerns Western efforts to resolve the standoff with Iran over its nuclear development program. Iran has insisted its nuclear work is purely for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. and many of its allies disagree, contending that Iran has embarked on a secret program to build nuclear weapons, with missiles capable of striking at Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

Working through the U.N. Security Council, the U.S., Britain, France and others have imposed several rounds of sanctions that have badly battered Iran's economy.

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