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Rouhani meets ex-US officials but obstacles to deal remain

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held an off-the-record dinner with former senior US officials and cabinet members, but sources say key hurdles to a nuclear deal persist.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) escorts Iran's President Hassan Rouhani for a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Jewel Samad/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT) - RTR47FMQ

NEW YORK — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke to an elite group of former US cabinet members and senior officials at an off-the-record dinner the night of Sept. 23. Among the guests were three former US national security advisers, Sandy Berger, Brent Scowcroft and Steve Hadley; former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former US special envoy to Afghanistan James Dobbins; and scholar Vali Nasr, sources at the dinner told Al-Monitor.

If the atmosphere at a similar dinner held with the then-newly inaugurated Rouhani last year “was full of hope and excitement and the sense of history being made,” this year’s dinner was “more businesslike and normal,” one guest, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor. “That is one thing. US-Iran relations, this is becoming more normalized.”

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