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 and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora