Obama Reaches Out To Iran During UN Speech, as Kerry Prepares to Meet with Rouhani
During his speech at the UN meeting Tuesday, Obama said that the issues that the international community has with Iran's nuclear weapons program won't be solved immediately but that he sees the potential for a "major step down a long road toward a different relationship."
"The road blocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe that the diplomatic path must be tested," Obama said.
Obama also said that open and honest conversations about the country's nuclear program would be necessary for furthering a relationship between the two nations.
The Obama administration has already consented to a meeting between Iranian leaders and Secretary of State John Kerry set for Thursday, and the possibility of a meeting between the two Presidents is still being tossed around. Iran's newly-elected president has made several steps towards mending fences with the West, including stating that the country has no interest in proliferating nuclear weapons and releasing political prisoners.
During his speech Tuesday, Obama also addressed two other areas of tension in the Middle East, Syria's use of chemical weapons, and peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
The president took the opportunity to make his case for implementing stern consequences for Syria if the country does not comply with terms for turning over their stores of chemical weapons for destruction. He asked for international support when it comes to holding Syria's leaders accountable.
"Now, there must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments. And there must be consequences if they fail to do so," Obama said. "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."
Obama also called on international leaders to get behind peace talks between Israel and Palestine to help push the possibility of peaceful coexistence between the two groups moving forward. He linked instability in the region to nuclear concerns in Iran:
Even a handshake between the two leaders would signify a historic moment in relations between the two countries, which have been on hold since Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979.
Israel, for it's part, is not exactly overwhelmed with joy. As the New York Times reports: