Obama welcomes signs of Iranian moderation

Obama welcomes signs of Iranian moderation

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday welcomed the new Iranian government's pursuit of a "more moderate course," saying it should offer the basis for a breakthrough on Iran's nuclear impasse with the United Nations and the U.S. He signalled a willingness to directly engage Iran's leaders, tasking Secretary of State John Kerry with pursuing that diplomacy with Tehran.

"The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested," Obama said during an address to the UN General Assembly.

Obama issued a stern message to the international body itself, saying its ability to meet the test of the times is being challenged by the dispute over what to do about Syria's chemical weapons. He called on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution that would enforce consequences on Syrian President Bashar Assad if he fails to follow a U.S.-Russian deal to turn his chemical weapon stockpiles over to the international community.

Obama also announced that the United States would provide $339 million in additional humanitarian aid to refugees and countries affected by the Syrian civil war, bringing the total U.S. aid devoted to that crisis to nearly $1.4 billion.

As the General Assembly meetings opened, the situation in Syria was overshadowed by a flurry of friendly gestures between the U.S. and Iran's new government. Obama said recent statements by Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, a moderate cleric elected in June, should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

The West has long suspected that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon. Tehran has consistently denied the charge.

Obama, reflecting the skepticism of many in the U.S. and around the world, said Rowhani's "conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable."

Obama said he was asking Kerry to pursue diplomatic progress with Iran, in coordination with five other world powers. Kerry will join representatives from those nations Thursday in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.

It's unclear whether Kerry and Zarif will meet one-on-one on the sidelines of that meeting. And Obama also offered no hints of whether he will meet Tuesday with Rowhani. Even a brief handshake would be significant, marking the first such encounter between U.S. and Iranian leaders in 36 years.

Source:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/obama-welcomes-signs-of-iranian-moderation-1.1866079



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