UNITED NATIONS -- Obama referred to the formula at his news conference on Friday.
“I’ve made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations,” he said. “So the test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place.”
The first test of that formula will come on Oct. 15-16 in Geneva, where Rouhani said that Iran will present to the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany a roadmap for proceeding with negotiations that stalled in April.
“I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution” of the nuclear dispute, Obama said, pointing out that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious decree banning the development of nuclear weapons and Rouhani publicly has asserted that Iran will never build them.
At his news conference earlier in the day, Rouhani said that he, too, is confident that an agreement can be reached.
“In the not too distant future, I believe we can settle the nuclear issue,” he declared.
Rouhani had used his trip to the United Nations as part of an offensive to persuade the world that he intends to break with the distrust and hostility of the past. He packed his visit with talks with more than a dozen of the presidents, prime ministers and other leaders, addresses to the General Assembly and other U.N. forums, and a speech to foreign policy think tank in New York.
He also held private sessions with American academics and other Iran watchers and business leaders, met with Iranian-Americans and sat down for lengthy interviews with CNN and with PBS journalist Charlie Rose.
Though he did level barrages against the United States, they were delivered in serious tones and not with the animus, Holocaust denial and bizarre assertions with which his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, regaled the General Assembly during his eight years in power, provoking walkouts by Western and other diplomats. This time, only the Israeli delegation walked.
There were other marked differences. He referred to Israel by name, not as the “Zionist entity,” even while criticizing its refusal to join international arms control treaties. He acknowledged the Holocaust as a Nazi crime against the Jews and condemned extremism of all shades.
And while condemning Afghanistan’s puritanical Taliban insurgents during his news conference on Friday, he said women are equal with men, another departure for a leader of Iran, where women have long suffered intense discrimination.
“Women are like men and are equal with men and should be equally active in the social sphere,” he asserted.
Lesley Clark contributed from Washington.