Obama Speaks by Phone With Iran’s President in First Such Talk Since 1979

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Ending three decades of official estrangement, President Obama spoke by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Friday and said he is hopeful the two countries can reach a deal to resolve the long diplomatic standoff on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

obama rouhani

President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke on the phone, the first such conversation between the two countries’ leader since 1979. (credit: AFP/Getty Images)

“While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward, and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution,” Obama said in televised remarks at the White House.

It was the first direct communication between American and Iranian presidents since the 1979 Iranian revolution, when the U.S.-backed shah was overthrown and diplomatic relations were severed. Obama and Rouhani traded letters earlier this month but did not meet this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The call followed a 30-minute, one-on-one meeting Thursday between Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss the nuclear issue, and conciliatory remarks by Rouhani at the U.N. and with American audiences, including comments that repudiated his predecessor’s denial of the Holocaust.

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