No Plans for Obama and Rouhani to Meet at UN

President Barack Obama has no plans to meet Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani during the UN General Assembly next week in New York, the White House said Thursday, according to AFP.

"We currently do not have any plans for a meeting with President Rouhani and we are really not expecting one," said Ben Rhodes, a senior Obama foreign policy aide.

The UN General Assembly will mark the first time the two leaders will be in the same venue since the historic July 14 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — ended a 13-year standoff over the Islamic republic's nuclear program.

Two years ago, the possibility of a handshake between Obama and Rouhani at the annual gathering had sparked much speculation. It ended up not taking place.

In the end, the two presidents spoke over the phone once the General Assembly was over, in a first contact at that level between the United States and Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The phone call took place as Rouhani was leaving New York and heading to the airport.

The Iranian President has since his election been trying to convince the world that he is a moderate.

Last week, he gave a television interview to CBS, in which he said that Americans shouldn’t take it personally when Iranian crowds chant “Death to America” during rallies in Tehran.

Rouhani explained that the chants are “not a slogan against the American people” but rather the “policies of the United States have been against the national interests of Iranian people — it's understandable that people will demonstrate sensitivity to this issue.”

Rouhani, despite his comments, has personally presided over “Death to America” chants in Iran, as shown in a video released by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office last Independence Day.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also said he agrees with the “Death to America” chants, claiming the goal of the United States is “to put the people against the system."

Israel has warned the world many times not to be fooled by the Iranian president’s “charm offensive”.


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