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402 words - September 26, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
The hope of a surprise and historic handshake between the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his United States counterpart Barack Obama kept the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in suspense. Finally, the handshake did not happen but both leaders' remarks at the event have increased hope that the two nations will mend relations in the future.
President Obama cited Iran's nuclear program as one of "these issues (which) have been a major source of instability for far too long," in the Middle East. Also, Mr. Obama reminded that the mistrust between US and Iran – the two countries have not had diplomatic relations since 1979 – is deep-rooted. However the US leader might be willing to open the door for dialogue with Iran.
Firstly, the President acknowledged the US government has had some responsibility because of its "role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the Cold War." Secondly, President Obama assured his country is not "seeking regime change and respects the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful energy." Thirdly, the US remains resolved to not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, Mr. Obama stressed, adding that although the statements made by the two governments could "offer the basis for meaningful agreement" someday, resolving the nuclear issue will be a long-term task.
In turn, President Rouhani replied that "Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world or the region." We can arrive at a framework to manage our differences, provided that the US refrains from following the short-sighted interest of warmongering pressure groups, Mr. Rouhani said in support of a political solution in Syria. Also, he demanded respect of his country's right to enrichment and related nuclear rights since "nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine."
The two nations actually share more than it seems. They both have long-term interest in fostering stability in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. The hottest dispute however remains the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad of whom Iran has been the closest ally. Like nuclear energy, it is very unlikely Iran will make concessions in Syria since a regime change there would deprive Iran of most of its strategic depth and open the way for a Jordan-Syria oil pipeline, undermining the relevance of blocking the Strait of Hormuz in case things went bad.
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