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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid