News / Middle East

    Iran Confirms Exchange of Letters with Obama

     Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during an interview with state television at the presidency in Tehran, Sept. 10, 2013.
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during an interview with state television at the presidency in Tehran, Sept. 10, 2013.
    Reuters
    Iran said on Tuesday that President Hassan Rouhani had exchanged letters with U.S. President Barack Obama, confirming a rare contact between leaders of the two nations at loggerheads over Iran's nuclear program, the Syrian war and other issues.
        
    The United States and Iran cut off formal diplomatic ties in 1980, shortly after students and Islamic militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took American diplomats hostage.
        
    But officials from both countries have said they are open to direct talks in order to find a diplomatic solution to a decade-long dispute over Iran's nuclear program, over which the West has imposed economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
        
    Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons but the United States and its allies suspect it is working towards such a capability.    

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Tuesday that Obama had sent Rouhani a message of congratulations on the occasion of his election.
        
    “This letter has been exchanged,” Afkham said, according to the ISNA news agency. “The mechanism for exchanging these letters is through current diplomatic channels.”
        
    Though rare, it is not the first time letters have been exchanged. Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wrote one to Obama three years ago, and Obama wrote twice directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in 2009 and 2012.
        
    Obama said in an interview broadcast on Sunday he had exchanged letters with Rouhani. The two men will speak on the same day at the U.N. General Assembly next week, though there are currently no plans for them to meet.
        
    Rouhani, a centrist cleric who defeated more conservative candidates in June elections, has said he wants to pursue “constructive interaction” with the world, raising expectations of a negotiated settlement to the nuclear dispute.
        
    Khamenei, who would have to authorize any nuclear deal, said in a speech on Tuesday that he supported “correct and rational foreign and domestic policies,” according to ISNA.
        
    Iran does not seek nuclear weapons, Khamenei said, adding that the nuclear issue was an excuse by the United States and its allies to confront Iran.
        
    At a U.N. nuclear agency meeting in Vienna on Tuesday, a senior French official said Paris had noted the intention to dispel international concern about Iran's nuclear program expressed by the new government in Tehran.
        
    “We would like to take this assurance in good faith, but for us to do so Iran must act as soon as possible to take concrete, verifiable measures” to ease the concern, said Bernard Bigot, who headed the French delegation to the annual member state meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: maithe from: Paris, France
    September 17, 2013 2:02 PM
    Strange world...
    So Hassan Rouhani had exchanged letters with President Obama on the occasion of his election ( I thought Iran was still a real danger for all of us). Very nice indeed...
    Assad has now a lot of time for killing more and more syrians (President Obama by the way didn't say yet "He must go"). And now the Russian President Putin looks like"the Peace Maker" (and why not the next Nobel Price??...)
    Strange world...

    by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
    September 17, 2013 6:33 AM
    This is an excellent news. Issues and problems between the US and Iran can only be solved by showing willingness to talk. This may be a chance for us to finally address an issue that has engaged several of our Presidents. Since, Obama does not have to worry about reelction, this, if even if partially successful, can be his lasting legacy. I ask our President not to rely solely on his current advisors. They have shown to be singularly unsuited for the task. This may be Obama's last chance to show that we, the US still matters in the world affairs after the disaster with Syria. If some countries in the Middle East do not want to see a peace for their selfish reasons, ignore them. Go for it Obama.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.