Iran, US presidents hold telephone exchange

Iran, US presidents hold telephone exchange
Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:13:22

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has engaged in a telephone conversation initiated by his US counterpart Barack Obama, discussing ways to resolve disputes over Iran’s nuclear energy program as well as other regional issues.

The landmark phone call by Obama came on Friday as President Rouhani was in a vehicle heading to New York’s Kennedy Airport for his flight back to Tehran following his participation in the 68th annual session of the UN General Assembly.

The two heads of state reiterated Tehran and Washington’s political will to promptly resolve persisting Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear energy program and exchanged viewpoints on other issues, including cooperation on different regional concerns.

Moreover, in a Friday press briefing Obama described his conversation with the Iranian president as an “important opportunity in Washington’s foreign policy.”

"Just now, I spoke on the phone with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran's nuclear program," Obama added, expressing optimism about reaching a comprehensive solution on the matter.

During the telephone conversation, according to an IRNA report, Rouhani and Obama further assigned Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry to rapidly prepare the grounds for cooperation between the two counties.

The Iranian president also confirmed the phone conversation in a series of messages on Twitter.

The phone conversation was the first direct communication between the presidents of the two countries since Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979.

It came following a Thursday meeting between Iran and the six major world powers – the so-called P5+1 group -- in New York over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

Zarif described the talks as "very good and substantive" and said the result would have to include "a total lifting" of all Western sanctions against Iran.

“We hope to be able to make progress to solve this issue in a timely fashion [and] to make sure [there is] no concern that Iran's [nuclear] program is anything but peaceful," the Iranian foreign minister added.

Kerry, meanwhile, referred to the talks as “constructive" and said the two sides agreed to engage in a process to resolve questions over Iranian nuclear activities.

Iran has been a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has conducted regular and numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities.

Contrary to unsubstantiated Western claims that Iran may plan diversions to non-civilian objectives, the IAEA has never found any evidence indicating such deviation in the Iranian nuclear program.

Tehran maintains that as a long-time NPT signatory and an IAEA member, it has every right to explore and pursue nuclear technology for peaceful objectives.

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