September 26, 2013 - 09:10 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he wants to reach a deal with world powers on Tehran's nuclear program in three to six months.
"The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that's short," new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quoted as telling the Washington Post, through a translator, during a visit to New York, where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, according to Reuters.
"The shorter it is, the more beneficial it is to everyone. If it's three months that would be Iran's choice, if it's six months that's still good. It's a question of months not years," said Rouhani when asked for a time frame for resolving Iran's nuclear dispute with the West.
On Thursday, Sept 26, Iran will hold talks with the P5+1 group of world powers on Tehran's uranium enrichment program.
In a rare encounter between U.S. and Iranian officials, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who already held a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as well as diplomats from the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany in New York.
Iran has been negotiating with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, since 2006 about its nuclear program. The West suspects Tehran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, a claim strongly denied by Iran.
Despite years of hostility between the U.S. and Iran, Rouhani said that if he and President Barack Obama got together they would both be "looking at the future".
"The notes and letters and exchanges between us are in that direction, and they will continue," he said. "We need a beginning point. I think that is the nuclear issue. After resolution of the nuclear issue there are no impossibilities in term of advancing other things forward. Everything is possible after the settlement."
President Obama has welcomed the new Iranian president's more "moderate course". He said the U.S. wanted to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully, but was determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, according to BBC News.
Iranians are also hoping to see some concrete steps taken by the Western powers - namely relief from painful U.S., European Union and UN sanctions for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
Seyed Yahya Safavi, a senior military adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei, said in an interview with Fars news agency on Wednesday that Tehran wants to see action from the Americans. "If they lift sanctions bit by bit and establish trust, (then) we can be hopeful," Safavi added.
Morteza Sarmadi, Iran's deputy foreign minister, quoted in state news agency IRNA, echoed Safavi's comments, saying: "The thing that will get us results are the actions that must follow these statements," referring to Obama's UN speech on Tuesday.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was interested in more than words from the Iranians. "We hope that the new Iranian government will show and not just say they are prepared to engage substantively, and tomorrow is an early test of that proposition," she said.
Skepticism runs deep, particularly among the Israelis. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will not be fooled by Hassan Rouhani's international outreach, and the world must not be either.
The Israelis are not alone, Reuters says.
"We are seeing an enormous amount in terms of signals and gestures but absolutely nothing in substance," a French diplomatic source said about Zarif's meeting with Fabius. "We hope that tomorrow will be the occasion to change that."
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose country borders Iran, said it would do all it could to encourage progress in engagement with Iran.
"There is a positive atmosphere and we want that this will continue, not only in the nuclear file, but in all other issues," he said. "We expect that Iran will contribute constructively to regional issues as well, like Syria. That is important for us."
Davutoglu said Turkey was still willing to revive a failed 2010 nuclear fuel-swap agreement which would have involved it taking low-enriched uranium from Iran in return for higher-grade material for use in a medical research reactor.