News / Middle East

Skepticism Remains as Iran's Charm Offensive Exits UN Stage

Skepticism Remains as Iran's Charm Offensive Exits UN Stagei
X
September 28, 2013 1:28 PM
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The leaders agreed to work on resolving suspicions that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. The 15-minute conversation was the latest of several steps that may - or may not - indicate a thawing of decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports, this follows a week of busy diplomacy at the United Nations General Assembly.

Iranian and US Presidents Speak by Phone

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.  The leaders agreed to work on resolving suspicions that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.  The 15-minute conversation was the latest of several steps that may - or may not - indicate a thawing of decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran.

It became a common occurrence in New York - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani walking to the podium, talking about Iran's "real face."

"My government is prepared to leave no stone unturned in seeking a mutually acceptable solution," said Rouhani.

But after a meeting of Iran's foreign minister and world powers, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was still skeptical.

"Needless to say one meeting and a change in tone, which was welcome, doesn't answer those questions yet and there is a lot of work to be done," said Kerry.

Iran's foreign minister called the same meeting constructive while sticking to Tehran's bottom line:

"As we move forward, there has to be removal of sanctions, and, in the end game, there has to be a total lifting of all sanctions," said Javad Zarif.

Getting there is still likely to be tricky. Despite Iran's repeated and renewed denials, many in the West aren't convinced Tehran is ready to give up on acquiring nuclear weapons.  And Iran's unveiling of new drones, capable of carrying missiles, isn't likely to ease such concerns.

Reaction in Iran has been reserved - seemingly little disappointment a hoped for meeting between President Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama failed to materialize.

"If they [the Americans] take one step forward, we'll take two, so that we can achieve a result," said a resident of Tehran.

"The reason we didn't agree to meet them (Americans) is because of their arrogant nature," said another.

Still, during a news conference Friday, President Rouhani said he was satisfied with how things went.

Ellen Laipson is director of the Stimson Center:

"I think he did what he was supposed to do.  He made a conciliatory engagement with the world's public - not just the U.S," said Laipson.

Some analysts say the the two leaders' failure to meet shows Iran sees the nuclear talks and relations with the U.S. as two distinct issues that can be addressed separately -- with the nuclear talks taking top priority.

Any final decision on either still resides with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"He's going to test the waters.  If it works, he wins," said
Joe Cirincione, who is with the non-profit Ploughshares Fund. "He shows that diplomacy under his rule has worked.  If it fails, he also wins. His view the U.S. can't be trusted."

Hanging over the diplomatic efforts are concerns about Israel, which accuses Iran of using this new outreach to stall for more time to build a nuclear weapon.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address the U.N. on Tuesday,


Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Amin from: Texas
September 28, 2013 1:28 PM
All this will be forgotten next week. NuttyYahoo will be in town with his bomb diagram showing us with calipers just how close the Iranians have come to his red line.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid