News / Middle East

Rouhani: Iran Ready for Serious Talks

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters September 24, 2013.Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters September 24, 2013.
x
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters September 24, 2013.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters September 24, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
In his international debut at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Hassan Rouhani said Iran is a peaceful country that poses no threat to the region or the world.

Of his country’s suspect nuclear program, he said Iran is ready to immediately hold transparent, “time-bound and results-oriented talks” to build mutual confidence. 

“Our national interests make it imperative we remove any and all reasonable concerns about our peaceful nuclear program,” said Rouhani through an interpreter.  

The Shi'ite cleric, who was elected in June, said that nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defense doctrine and contradict the nation’s religious convictions.

Rouhani also commented on international sanctions imposed on Iran for its intransigence in complying with demands that it answer outstanding questions about its nuclear program.  The Iranian leader said sanctions only hurt the common man, not the state.

On Iran’s embattled ally of Syria, Rouhani said that any use of chemical weapons is to be condemned.  He criticized states for fueling the conflict by sending arms and fighters.

“We emphasized that there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis,” said Rouhani.

Rouhani made no mention of the Iranian-funded Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside Syrian forces for several months.

Quoting from the Jewish holy book the Torah, Rouhani’s tone was a significant change from the inflammatory rhetoric of hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who regularly taunted Israel and the United States. 

While Israel’s chair was empty during the Iranian speech, no diplomats from other countries appeared to walk out, as they had in previous years.

Ahead of his U.N. debut, Rouhani released about a dozen political prisoners and gave several media interviews signaling his interest in improving relations with the West.

However, an anticipated encounter between Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama did not take place on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Tuesday.  A U.S. official said the Iranians were not ready to have an encounter at the presidential level just now.

President Rouhani did hold a formal one-on-one meeting with French President Francois Hollande.  Before their talks, the French leader welcomed Rouhani’s recent statements in his remarks to the General Assembly, but said the Iranian president must translate the words into actions, specifically on the nuclear issue.
Iran says its nuclear pursuits are for peaceful purposes, but the West believes Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

The foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, will meet with their Iranian counterpart later this week to discuss the issue.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid