Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Iran Rebuffs U.S. Offer to Meet

At the Wall Street Journal, "Iran Applies Brakes to U.S. Mideast Plans: Tehran Decides Against Meeting of President at U.N.":

UNITED NATIONS—President Barack Obama argued the U.S. case before world leaders for resolving the Middle East's deepest conflicts, but pushback from Iran dimmed hopes that had been building for a rapid leap forward.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's decision against meeting Mr. Obama—or even exchanging a handshake—at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday soured what American and European officials had hoped would mark an advancement in efforts to wind down tensions.

Mr. Rouhani followed that rebuff with an address to the U.N. in which he aired his hopes for reconciliation while holding firm on Iran's right to enrich uranium and criticizing some aspects of American foreign policy, including economic sanctions on Tehran.

Mr. Obama's address earlier on Tuesday was framed as an explanation of his approach to the Middle East and how he plans to engage the region for the remainder of his time in office.

"Some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional" because of its willingness to get involved in the outside world, he said—a direct rebuke to criticism by Russian leader Vladimir Putin of Mr. Obama's call for action in Syria.

The president posed the Syrian civil war as a test for the world body—urging a Security Council resolution this week demanding the dismantling of Damascus's chemical-weapons arsenal—and called on Russia and Iran to use their influence with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to force a political process to end the conflict.

Some U.S. officials see a potential thaw with Iran as a way to gain leverage in bringing a resolution to the Syrian civil war and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Continue reading.

Also, "Transcript and Video: Obama’s Remarks at United Nations."