Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Friday said that “conditions are ripe” for implementation of the nuclear agreement between his country and the six world powers.
Speaking to reporters in New York, where he arrived in order to take part in the UN General Assembly, Rouhani said the implementation of the deal could begin by November or December of this year.
"Conditions are ripe for that," the Iranian president said, according to the Reuters news agency, though Western officials have suggested that implementation of the deal was more likely next year.
Rouhani also spoke about his country’s ties with the United States, saying relations had improved but there was "still a long road to travel" before the two could have normal relations.
"The situation has certainly changed," he said, according to Reuters, and added, "We can point to the tangibles, the many steps forward, but there is still a long road to travel."
He described the nuclear deal as a "big test" for U.S.-Iranian relations and said that it was important to create an atmosphere of trust.
"If we continue on the path, the road will be paved to further cooperation and collaboration," he said, adding that "we have seen good faith between the two sides."
The White House has said there was no meeting planned between Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama while they are at UN headquarters in the coming days. Rouhani suggested it would be premature to discuss encounters between the two men.
"Before talking about meetings or handshakes," Rouhani said, the two countries should focus on resolving issues.
The president has presented a softer stance with regards to the United States in recent days, having previously told CBS 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.
In addition, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has continued to verbally attack the United States even after the signing of the deal, having said earlier this month Tehran would not negotiate with the United States on any issue after the landmark nuclear deal with the six world powers in July.
Rouhani also referred to the detention of Americans in Iran and Iranians in the United States. Iran is holding several Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship.
Rouhani said both countries should do what they could to move forward to freeing prisoners held by each other. He added that the issue was "personally important to me," though he said his constitutional powers were limited on the matter.
"Both governments have to help to move these legal files forward," he said, according to Reuters.
Iranian officials have said they want freedom for Iranians held in the United States, some of whom have been jailed on charges of circumventing U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)