Obama says he wants to test Iran leader's interest in dialogue

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:39pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy to mark the five-year anniversary of the U.S. financial crisis at the White House in Washington September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy to mark the five-year anniversary of the U.S. financial crisis at the White House in Washington September 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani appears to want to open a dialogue with the United States and that he is willing to test whether this is the case.

Obama's comment in an interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo was the latest indication the president would like to jump from the crisis over Syria's chemical weapons to a new search for a diplomatic deal to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

Last weekend, Obama revealed he and Rouhani had exchanged letters about the U.S.-Iran standoff. Both leaders will be at the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week, although White House officials say they are no current plans for them to meet.

"There is an opportunity here for diplomacy," Obama told Univision. "And I hope the Iranians take advantage of it."

Obama ran for president in 2008 in part by vowing to open a dialogue with Iran.

But there has been no breakthrough and sanctions by Washington and the United Nations to weaken Iran's economy have gradually been increased to try to pressure Tehran to give up a nuclear program that it denies is aimed at building a weapon.

"There are indication that Rouhani, the new president, is somebody who is looking to open dialogue with the West and with the United States, in a way that we haven't seen in the past. And so we should test it," Obama said.

Since the surprise election in June of Rouhani, a centrist cleric, officials from both countries have made increasing hints that they are open to direct talks to seek an end to the decade-long nuclear dispute.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Philip Barbara)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
Just do it and talk face to face without any coercion from Israel,
and make those talks open so we can all know and judge what was being

Sep 17, 2013 6:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MikeBarnett wrote:
US leaders often defer to Israel and may not accept Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear development without pressure on the US. Iran should run out of oil by 2050; lacks sufficient river systems for extensive hydroelectric power; and has massive sandstorms that would clog the gears of windmills and scratch the surfaces of solar panels and mirrors. Nuclear electricity is Iran’s necessity. Its geography makes it an extremely valuable route for oil and gas pipelines from Arab lands along the Persian Gulf to India and China. Both growing nations have economic interests in pipeline routes through Iran and can aid Iran’s legitimate nuclear power needs because they don’t delude themselves with religious fervor for Israel, a small theocracy in the Middle East. China and India have already gained waivers on US sanctions over oil purchases from Iran because their economies are important today and will become more so in the future. China’s GDP growth rate is 7.6% for 2013; India’s is 5.5%; and the US rate is 1.8%. Further, these growth rates are for about 2.5 billion people, so they are massive markets today and will be bigger in the future. The US has cut off its trade with 50% of the world and can’t afford to lose 2.5 billion customers over the paranoid delusions of Israel.

Sep 17, 2013 7:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.