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Obama-Rouhani Phone Call Thaws Relations

The phone call between Presidents Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani is a beacon for future US-Iran relations. 
U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a phone call in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington September 27, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held the historic phone call on Friday, in the highest level conversation between the estranged nations in more than three decades. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said both men had directed their teams to work expeditiously toward an agreement on Iran's nuclear

The 15-minute telephone conversation between Presidents Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani was the beginning of an authentic thaw, but not a breakthrough. This is not only a response to what was dubbed a “charm campaign” by much of the media, but a promising first step that could lead to a resumption of relations suspended since 1979.

This initial conversation that took place Friday, Sept. 27, prior to Rouhani’s departure from the United States, is a recognition on behalf of the Obama administration that the last election outcome in Iran was an authentic liberal change that could restore three decades of absent relations. This is a significant development and must be taken seriously despite parasitical objections by naysayers. Of course it is going to be slow — at times tentative — but it is a very significant development that could help resolve many complicated problems that have characterized the recent Middle East situation.

I don’t think we are at the stage of being totally optimistic, but we are definitely at the stage of dethroning the state of pessimism. In general, the 15-minute conversation between the two leaders opens the vistas of reconciliation — a resumption of relations that brings, hopefully, more stability and eases prevailing tensions throughout a region eager to resume its capacity for sustainable development, democratic freedoms and the peace that has eluded it for so many decades.

Clovis Maksoud is a former ambassador and permanent observer of the League of Arab States at the United Nations and its chief representative in the United States for more than 10 years.

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