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Obama Willing to Test Rouhani's Moderate Statements

Obama says he wants to test whether Iran’s new president is serious when he says he wants to open a dialogue with the United States.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/18/2013, 4:42 AM

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama
Flash 90

U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants to test whether Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is serious when he says he wants to open a dialogue with the United States.

In an interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo on Tuesday, Obama said, "There is an opportunity here for diplomacy, and I hope the Iranians take advantage of it."

"There are indications 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 in the interview, which was picked up by Reuters.

Rouhani, a centrist cleric who has been described by the West as a moderate, has pledged to improve Iran’s relations with the world and ease international sanctions imposed by Western powers over his country’s nuclear program.

Last week, Rouhani said that the time for resolving Iran's nuclear dispute with the West was limited, urging the world to seize the opportunity of his election.

He has also made it clear recently that Iran will not give up "one iota" of its nuclear rights.

Last weekend, Obama revealed in an interview with ABC News that he and Rouhani had exchanged letters about the U.S.-Iran standoff. This led to speculations that the two would meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but the White House denied on Monday that Obama has any intention of meeting Rouhani.

Israel has warned the world that Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would present moderate views while continuing to develop Iran’s nuclear program.