Update: 5:30 p.m. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged President Obama not to listen to “warmongering pressure groups,” but to abide by international law in his dealings with Iran.
In a speech to the UN General Assembly just concluded, Rouhani said he had listened carefully to Obama’s speech earlier, then warned that the dominant voice in Washington has been: “the military option is on the table.” This voice must give way to one of peace and conciliation, and respect for Iran’s right to develop nuclear power for domestic energy-production.
Rouhani also said that Palestinians experience “nothing less than structural violence” and that the term “apartheid” hardly begins to describe Israeli “aggression” against Palestinians.
Update: CNN reports: Officials: Obama and Rouhani won’t meet at UNGA
United Nations (CNN) — [Breaking news update at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday]
U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won’t meet during the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, even on the margins for a handshake, two senior U.S. administration officials told reporters. The officials said such an encounter proved too complicated for Iran back home. Earlier Tuesday, a senior administration official said the White House had “left the door open” to some kind of face-to-face interaction between the presidents. Obama is scheduled to leave New York on Tuesday night.
Reuters reports it’s “too complicated for Iranians“.
A potential encounter at the United Nations between U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani failed to take place on Tuesday as the Iranians indicated it was too complicated, senior Obama administration officials said.
“There will be no meeting,” one official said.
Update: Big Day at the UN, watch the speeches live here. Obama spoke this morning, now everyone is going crazy over a possible Obama/Rouhani encounter, and the warnings from Israel have begun. Time Magazine: A Handshake that Could Shake the World. NBC WorldNews: Hand-wringing precedes possible Obama-Rouhani handshake. The Forward: Israel Hopes Barack Obama Avoids Handshake With Iran Leader Hassan Rouhani. While the New York Times calls it “the diplomatic big tease of the year” and relies on the lobby stalwart Dennis Ross to warn against an opening to Iran with worn-out dumbed down, “rope a dope” messaging.
“It will certainly play to the Rouhani charm offensive, making the new Iranian leadership appear more moderate without any overt change in behavior,” said Dennis B. Ross…
Mr. Ross drew a distinction between a handshake and photo opportunity, and a working meeting. But he said, “We will still need to manage expectations and Israeli fears that we will end up in a rope-a-dope dialogue while the Iranian nuclear program creates facts on the ground.”
As if Obama is the dope.
Obama has done it. He has seized the opportunity and given an opening to Iran in a bold speech at the United Nations. John Kerry will meet on Thursday with the Iranian foreign minister and everyone on the cables is saying that “signals” are that a handshake will happen today between President Hassan Rouhani and President Barack Obama at the U.N.
Spectacular. Obama all but apologized for the American overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953, and said not a word about Hezbollah or terrorism or All options are on the table, while saying that Iranian-American suspicions will not be overcome “overnight.” Translation: the relationship will change overnight.
Wolf Blitzer and Andrea Mitchell both say a meeting of the presidents is inevitable today. While Jim Acosta, CNN’s senior White House correspondent, says that Obama has surprised him by overcoming his temperamental resistance to any bold move.
Can enough be said about Obama’s speech at the U.N. this morning? Leave out the claptrap about Israel and the Jewish state, he also mentioned the occupation as destructive of Israeli democracy, and Palestinian aspirations to freedom at last.
But the earthquake is Iran. Israelis and the lobby are in complete turmoil. Obama has extended his hand to Iran in a moment worthy of Nixon and China. We are at last altering our role in the Middle East. And the special relationship is about to become a lot less special.