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US ready to engage diplomatically with Iran: Barack Obama

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 00:25

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

New York: Welcoming Iran’s conciliatory overtures, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said that he was looking forward to a new relationship with Iran, based on mutual respect but at the same time he warned that Tehran must match its words with action.

“Conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable,” Obama said in his speech at the UN General Assembly.

In his UN address, Obama reiterated that the United States is determined not to let Iran develop a nuclear weapon.

Referring to Hassan Rouhani’s comment that Iran will never build a nuke weapon, Obama said Iran’s recent overtures would prove to be big step towards forging relationship of ’mutual respect’.

“We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful,” Obama told world leaders at the meeting.

"The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested," he said. "For while the status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation, Iran’s genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and the world, and will help the Iranian people meet their extraordinary potential – in commerce and culture; in science and education."

Obama`s mention of Iran in the very beginning of the speech comes after Iran`s newly elected President Hassan Rouhani sought to express goodwill gestures by striking conciliatory notes.

Speaking in an interview with US news channel NBC, Rouhani had said that Iran will never pursue the creation of nuclear weapons.

Obama might also meet Rouhani in a one-to-one meeting later in the day, which if happens, would be the first between US and Iranian government in more than 30 years.

The signs of a possible thaw between the US and Iran were beginning to surface after he reports of letter exchange between Rouhani and Obama, which was termed positive and constructive by Iranian President.

Speaking about the letter exchange, the White House said in a statement, "In his letter, the President outlined the US willingness to solve the problem by providing an opportunity to demonstrate to Iran that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes".
On the crisis in Syria, Obama stressed that the UN must pass a strong and meaningful resolution to ensure that that Assad regime abides by his commitment to dismantle chemical weapons.

“If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws,” he said. “On the other hand, if we succeed, it will send a powerful message that the use of chemical weapons has no place in the 21st century, and that this body means what it says.”

The US wants the Security Council to approve a resolution making the US-Russian agreement legally binding in a way that is verifiable and enforceable.

Rifts between Russia and the US remain as Russia is expected to veto any resolution urging military or non-military binding punitive measures on Syria.

First Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 14:09
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