U.S., France welcome Rowhani’s overtures, call for ‘concrete steps’

President Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly that Iran’s “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.” (Reuters)

The United States and France responded on Tuesday to Iran’s recent diplomatic overtures with a welcoming note, promising to give diplomacy a chance and calling for “concrete steps” to be taken by the Islamic Republic.

While President Barack Obama said during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that “the diplomatic path” with Iran “must be tested, he noted that “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

President Obama said he had instructed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue a possible new diplomatic opening with Tehran, AFP reported.

Kerry will meet Thursday with his new Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as foreign ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia at the United Nations headquarters.

It will be the first such minister-level talks on the nuclear issue since the negotiations were launched a decade ago.

It’s still unclear if President Obama will meet with Rowhani while at the United Nations. The leaders of the two countries haven’t had face-to-face contact in more than 30 years.

A U.S. official said the United States offered to set up “an encounter” between President Obama and his new Iranian counterpart during the U.N. summit but it proved "too complicated" for the Iranians.

Iranians informed the United States that it is "too complicated for Iranians to do at this point," the U.S. official said, according to AFP.

Obama has stressed that Iran must take “transparent” and “verifiable” actions to end international suspicions over its nuclear program.

In the same vein, French President Francois Hollande urged Iran to make “concrete gestures” on its nuclear program before his meeting with Tehran’s new leader.

“France expects Iran to make concrete gestures to show that it renounces its military nuclear program, even if it has a right to a civilian program,” Hollande told the U.N. General Assembly.

Hollande will meet later Tuesday with Rowhani, a reputed moderate who has called for better relations with the West.

“The question at hand is to know if these words can translate into actions, especially on the nuclear issue,” Hollande said.

“For the past 10 years talks haven’t gone anywhere,” he said.

Hollande said that he will “stand firm” against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Iran’s diplomatic overtures to the West were aimed at allowing Tehran to continue to pursue atomic weapons.

“Iran thinks that soothing words and token actions will enable it to continue on its path to the bomb,” Netanyahu said after Obama’s speech.

He said Israel would welcome a diplomatic solution that dismantled Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons.


(With AFP and Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40