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Obama, Rouhani Should Talk More Often

Progress in nuclear negotiations with Iran will have positive consequences for other regional security issues.
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

US-Iranian relations are, finally, at a turning point. For years, through hundreds of lectures and articles, I have elaborated on the necessity for the United States to end its regime change policy and avoid using the language of threats and humiliation toward Iran. The emphasis should instead be on detailing a “grand agenda” to revive bilateral relations based on mutual respect and interests. On the nuclear file, a peaceful resolution would be based within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and operationalizing the religious fatwa issued by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, banning the production, stockpiling and use of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

Presidents Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani missed the opportunity to meet for bilateral talks and a photo-op on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly gathering in New York. Scheduling issues and insufficient time for a substantive outcome were the reasons cited. This setback was short-lived, however, as it was followed by a phone conversation between the two presidents and direct talks between Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry. These two events were unprecedented in the history of the marred relations between the United States and Iran since the 1979 revolution. The political maturity and braveness of both presidents demonstrate their willingness to end more than three decades of hostilities.

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