Iran President Hassan Rouhani Wants to Present "True Face of Iran" During UN Meetings With John Kerry
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that John Kerry will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for the two country's highest-level peace talks — which will be particularly focused on Iran's nuclear program — since 1979. And as leaders from all over the world prepare to attend the United Nation's General Assembly meetings in New York this week, Iran seems particularly focused on mending fences with the West.
President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that he was looking forward to presenting the "true face of Iran" and planned on using the UN gathering to discuss resolving the dispute between his country and the West over Iran's nuclear weapon's program.
"Unfortunately in recent years the face of Iran, a great and civilized nation, has been presented in another way," a statement on Rouhani's official website said. "I and my colleagues will take the opportunity to present the true face of Iran as a cultured and peace-loving country."
In a move that also might appease the United States, Iranian officials also announced that 80 political prisoners had been released Monday. (Last week, Iran also released about a dozen prominent political prisoners.)
So what does Rouhani want in return? Iran's newly elected president has been pushing for a renewed relationship with the United States and is also seeking the lifting of harsh sanctions placed on the country (which stemmed from a previous unwillingness on Iran's part to allow inspectors to investigate Iran's nuclear program).
"The West should opt for the path of talks and cooperation and consider mutual interests," Rouhani said, adding, "I will try to deliver the voice of the oppressed people of Iran to the world and we should say that sanctions are an illegal and unacceptable path."
With both Rouhani and Obama in New York for the UN meetings, many are waiting to see if the two leaders will make time for an in-person conversation. The U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Iran back in 1979, after a U.S. embassy was attacked and 52 hostages were held for over a year.