September 18, 2013 - 09:30 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday, September 17 that Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani appears to want to open a dialogue with the United States and that he is willing to test whether this is the case, according to Reuters.
Obama's comment in an interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo was the latest indication the president would like to jump from the crisis over Syria's chemical weapons to a new search for a diplomatic deal to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.
Last weekend, Obama revealed he and Rouhani had exchanged letters about the U.S.-Iran standoff. Both leaders will be at the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week, although White House officials say they are no current plans for them to meet.
"There is an opportunity here for diplomacy," Obama told Telemundo. "And I hope the Iranians take advantage of it."
Obama ran for president in 2008 in part by vowing to open a dialogue with Iran.
But there has been no breakthrough and sanctions by Washington and the United Nations to weaken Iran's economy have gradually been increased to try to pressure Tehran to give up a nuclear program that it denies is aimed at building a weapon.
"There are indication that Rouhani, the new president, is somebody who is looking to open dialogue with the West and with the United States, in a way that we haven't seen in the past. And so we should test it," Obama said.
According to The Guardian, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has given the clearest signal yet that Rouhani, has the authority to conduct direct talks with the US and offer compromises in nuclear talks.
Khamanei told the Islamic republic's revolutionary guards there was room for leniency in diplomacy. "Diplomacy is the field of smiling and requests for talks," he said on Tuesday in a speech delivered to senior commanders of the elite forces in Tehran, according to his official website.
"I'm not opposed to proper moves in diplomacy, and I still believe in what I named years ago as champion's leniency."