West awaits Iran leader's U.N. address
WASHINGTON — For the past six years, the Iranian president's speech at the annual gathering of the United Nations has been met by a ritual walkout of Western diplomats. This year, they're likely to hang around till the end — and some may even applaud.
Instead of the angry Holocaust-denying diatribes of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his soft-spoken successor, Hassan Rouhani, is likely to give a conciliatory address to world leaders this week. It will be watched for signs that he is willing to thaw relations with the West.
Western diplomats predict that Rouhani's speech on Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly will include an important gesture, perhaps an acknowledgment of the Holocaust. U.S. officials would like to see him go further during his five-day visit, possibly by consenting to direct talks with Washington for the first time since diplomatic relations were ruptured by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The White House says it has not scheduled a meeting between President Obama and the 64-year-old cleric. But U.S. officials have dropped hints that Obama and other top officials are ready for impromptu chats with Rouhani or his U.S.-educated foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, that could open the way for bargaining on Iran's disputed nuclear program.
There are signs that Rouhani “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,” Obama said in an interview on Telemundo. “So we should test it.”
Obama has repeatedly signaled his willingness for direct contact, both in remarks and in a recent exchange of letters with Rouhani, who was elected in June after a campaign that included pledges to ease Iran's isolation and improve relations with the West.
Iran's most powerful figure, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has long resisted compromise on the nuclear program. But with punitive sanctions increasingly squeezing the economy, he has signaled top-level support for the Rouhani mission, including allowing the release of 11 political prisoners. Most had been held since the government crackdown that followed Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009.
Whether Rouhani is simply presenting a more moderate face to the world or is open to real compromise to end the nuclear dispute is unclear.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- White House ricochets in nonprofits’ birth control coverage fray
- NASA expected to hire private rocket
- U.S. could have done better, says brother of slain journalist
- Mudslides plague Washington state after wildfire strips hillsides
- Ferguson residents fear return of rioting, looting
- Oklahoma City officer accused of sex assaults
- Reid apologizes for jokes at Asian business event
- Kentucky firefighters recovering from ice stunt shocks
- His murder-arson conviction overturned, man walks free 24 years later
- Retailers warned about software
- Charities reconsider fundraising activities