A telephone call Friday between US President Barack Obama and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is being hailed as a historic development. The call is the first of its kind between an American and Iranian president in more than three decades.
After the Iranian leader rebuffed an American request to meet Obama when the two were at the UN General Assembly, Obama reached Rouhani as the Iranian leader was headed to the airport to leave New York.
The New York Times reported that the two "agreed to accelerate talks aimed at defusing the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and afterward expressed optimism at the prospect of a rapprochement that would transform the Middle East."
Obama made clear in a conversation with reporters at the White House that Iran's nuclear weapons program is a central one in the new contacts between the leaders. “Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” Obama said after the 15-minute phone call. “It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region.”
A Twitter account that operates on behalf of Rouhani’s later stated, “In regards to nuclear issue, with political will, there is a way to rapidly solve the matter.” It account added that. Rouhani had told Obama, “We’re hopeful about what we will see from” the United States and other major powers “in coming weeks and months.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Thursday in New York along with diplomats from the UN Security Council members from U.S, Russia, Britain, France and China and Germany (known as the P5+1).
Iran and the six world powers have held several rounds of talks on Iran’s nuclear program. The last round of talks was held at the start of April in Almaty but failed, as did previous rounds.