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Iran nuclear: Obama and Rouhani speak by phone

QuestCinq/News

–US President Barack Obama says he has spoken by phone to Iran’s Hassan Rouhani – the first such top-level conversation in more than 30 years.

Mr Obama spoke of a “unique opportunity” to make progress with Iran’s new leadership, amid a flurry of diplomacy over its nuclear programme.

Earlier, Mr Rouhani said Iran was keen to reach a deal soon.

He also asserted that Iran did not seek a nuclear bomb, as Western powers have long suspected.

Describing meetings at the UN this week as a “first step”, he said he believed the nuclear issue could be settled “within the not too distant future”.

Mr Rouhani said initial discussions had taken place in an environment that was “quite different” from the past.

Analysis

image of James ReynoldsJames ReynoldsBBC Iran correspondent

Hassan Rouhani’s actions in New York reveal a man dealing with the inherent, overwhelming contradiction of his job: he has a popular mandate without actual power.

In a speech given on 17 September in Tehran, Ali Khamenei approved the use of “heroic flexibility” in diplomacy. This would appear to translate as an instruction to President Rouhani: by all means see what you can get from the Americans, but don’t go around shaking Obama’s hand.

The ayatollah-approved outreach in New York included the first sustained direct talks between the US and Iran at foreign minister level for more than 30 years.

Hassan Rouhani may be able to recommend a deal, he may be able to explain how concessions are the best way to get sanctions lifted, and improve the lives of ordinary Iranians. But in the end, it is the supreme leader who will have the final say.

Mr Rouhani, who is regarded as a moderate and was elected in June, has said he wants to reach a deal over the nuclear issue in three to six months.

He says he is fully empowered by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to negotiate on the issue.

On Friday, he told a press conference at the UN: “I believe that whatever result we achieve through negotiations my government will have the full backing of all the main branches of power in Iran as well as the support of the people of Iran.”

And he said Iran was 100% supportive that a deal should be struck “within a very short period of time”.

Continue reading the main story

Source:BBC

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