U.S. President, Iranian President Speak For First Time Since 1979

President Obama spoke with Iranian President Rouhani today, the first such contact between the nations in 34 years.

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In a late Friday press room appearance devoted mostly to the developments in Congress on the budget, President Obama made an announcement that is something of big development in international relations:

WASHINGTON — President Obama said Friday he had spoken by phone with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, the first direct contact between the leaders of Iran and United States since 1979. Mr. Obama, speaking in the White House briefing room, said the two leaders discussed Iran’s nuclear program and said he was persuaded there was a basis for an agreement.

There had been some speculation that Obama and Rouhani might have met up when the two were in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting, but for several reasons that never materialized. Instead, President Obama had directed Secretary of State Kerry to meet with Iran’s Foreign Minister in an effort to reopen stalled talks about Iran’s nuclear program. In his remarks, President Obama was markedly, albeit reservedly, optimistic about the prospect of being able to reach a deal over the course of the next year.

As always, we’ll have to wait to see if there are any positive developments coming out of this. There’s no question that President Rouhani has very consciously moved to distance himself from his predecessor and the anti-Western tone that Iranian public rhetoric had taken during the course of his time in office. He even reached out to Israel, in a way, when he sent a Tweet containing greetings for Rosh Hashanah. Whether this is a public relations move or a signal of something more substantive remains to be seen but, it’s worth noting that Rouhani was once the man who led the Iranian delegation for the multi-national nuclear talks that were taking place in Geneva, Switzerland over the years. Whether this means he is more willing than his predecessor to talk about some kind of a deal is unclear and, of course, it must always be noted that ultimate authority in Iran rests not with the President, but with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni. On some level, though, it is doubtful that Rouhani would be pursuing this course of action without the approval of the religious leaders.

In any event, it’s always good to see diplomacy taking place. Whether it leads to something productive and worthwhile is something we’ll have to wait for.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, National Security, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CB says:

    And that is a good thing, no matter what the crazy people say.

  2. grumpy realist says:

    Cue the Republican Party shouting “Treason!” in 3…2….1

  3. C. Clavin says:

    While the children are out pretending to defund Obamacare…the adults are busy taking care of business.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Just another sign that Obama is selling us out to the Islamists. What they probably really talked about was how the US could secretly export a few Minutemen missiles to Iran with out the ever vigilant Tea Party getting a whiff of it.

    Also, Israel sucks.

  5. Blue Shark says:

    …It doesn’t always look like it, but it is obvious now that Obama is playing the long game vis-a-vis Syria, Russia, and Iran.

    …Smart diplomacy is a feature … not a bug.

  6. Jeremy R says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Cue the Republican Party shouting “Treason!” in 3…2….1

    Yup, this one pushes nearly all of their buttons. Just wait till they see:

    http://thelead.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/27/what-did-obama-say-to-iranian-president-hassan-rouhani/

    Rouhani scooped Obama’s announcement, sending a tweet earlier in the day that said, “In a phone conversation (between) #Iranian & #US Presidents just now: @HassanRouhani: “Have a Nice Day!” @BarackObama: “Thank you. Khodahafez.””

    What does Khodahafez mean?

    “It means ‘God be with you,'” said CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

    “In fact, it’s a point of contention in the Islamic world. The Persians tend to say ‘Khoda Hafez’ and lots of people, it’s the standard slang. But the hard line Sunnis now say ‘Allah Hafez,’ because they don’t like the Persian word ‘Khoda’ which is ‘God.’

    “But that’s inside baseball,” said Zakaria.

  7. JWH says:

    Unfortunately, the biased media is leaving out the true story.

    Yesterday, Joe Biden called President Rouhani to ask him if had Prince Albert in a can. This morning, Rouhani called Obama to ask him to keep Biden under control.

    That’s all.

  8. Surreal American says:

    @JWH:

    Oh that Biden! What a scamp he is!

  9. al-Ameda says:

    Isn’t it about time for Ted Cruz to whip out his Neville Chamberlain analogy?

  10. Steve V says:

    I had a close friend in high school who was Iranian and often hung out with him and his family. As best I could tell at the time, Khodahafez meant, depending on the context, “Hi mom,” “catch you later,” “how you doing,” etc. etc. etc. I just figured it was Farsi for “Aloha.”

  11. PD Shaw says:

    @al-Ameda: I’d like to see Cruz front a filibuster with a little Beastie Brothers homage:

    Got this dance that’s more than real
    So I called the Ayatollah to see how he feels
    I offered Moet, and he drank Chivas
    Wherever Obama goes he brings the monkey with us

    Surrender Monkeys – those funky Monkeys
    Surrender Monkeys – chunky
    Those funky Monkeys

  12. Surreal American says:

    @al-Ameda:

    It would have to be on the days when Obama isn’t Hitler.

    Hey wait, maybe Rouhani should negotiate on the days when Obama *is* Hitler. That way Rouhani gets to be Chamberlain.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @Surreal American:

    Hey wait, maybe Rouhani should negotiate on the days when Obama *is* Hitler. That way Rouhani gets to be Chamberlain.

    Exactly. They can hold negotiations at a Portland Micro-Brew Pub (sorry it’s Oktoberfest and beer halls in Munich just are not available). Afterward, perhaps 2 weeks later Rouhani-Chamberlain and Obama-Fuhrer can walk on a beach at the Caspian Sea (Sudetenland) at sunset. Ah, I do believe I detect the scent of Anschluss in the air.

  14. Scott F. says:

    …of course, it must always be noted that ultimate authority in Iran rests not with the President, but with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni. On some level, though, it is doubtful that Rouhani would be pursuing this course of action without the approval of the religious leaders.

    According to a report on NPR this morning, Rouhani has Khamenei’s backing.

  15. James Pearce says:

    @PD Shaw: Beastie Brothers???

    And surrender monkey? Really, man?

    Comedy fail…..

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    Other than a typical moronic article by Peggy Noonan the cons have been really quiet.

  17. walt moffett says:

    Kinda of interesting today’s webpage of the Tehran Times leads with the meeting between Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif or is there any mention of the call on the Farsnews web page. Maybe a cultural thing where a face to face meeting is more important than a phone call.

    Lets see what happens next.

  18. Just another libtard here says:

    You people are sick .. Just look at you all of you with the tingles up your leg for Oblowmo..
    You can’t see that this country is going in the dump after 5 years of this monstrosity?
    All fools, every last one of you ..

  19. al-Ameda says:

    @Just another libtard here:

    You people are sick .. Just look at you all of you with the tingles up your leg for Oblowmo..
    You can’t see that this country is going in the dump after 5 years of this monstrosity?
    All fools, every last one of you ..

    Your Death Panel just called, please greet it.

  20. merl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: When your sainted Reagan negotiated with Iran it was to delay the release of the hostages until after the 1980 election. And where to deliver the missiles he gave them. At least Obama is doing it for a good cause.

  21. Rob in CT says:

    @merl:

    Your sarcasm detector needs a firmware update.

    @Just another libtard here: LOL.

  22. I’m all for dialogue, but dialogue should be predicated on clear understandings of what the end game should be. In the case of Iran, that end game should be the abandonment of nuclear weapons. If Iran wants nuclear power for peaceful uses, it has to submit to inspection and buy fuel rods and not enrich its own. Iran also needs to clean up its human rights record and halt the barbaric practice of public hangings, as well as reopen dissident news media and release political and religious prisoners. Iran also needs to halt its foreign adventures in supporting terror groups and smuggling arms in places like Syria. Dialogue is great, but it means to be meaningful, otherwise it’s like North Korea; a delaying tactic or bargaining chip. Iran has too long a history of saying one thing and doing another and Rouhani is as practiced at it as anyone. You can see it for yourself at http://www.hassan-rouhani.info. Only regime change is going to really change Iran

  23. Matt says:

    “regime change” being code for “invade and setup a puppet government. Because you know that worked so well in Iraq and Afghanistan…