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After 30 Years, Leaders of US and Iran Talk by Phone

- Common Dreams staff

President Barack Obama talks with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran during a phone call in the Oval Office. (Photo: The White House/MCT)President Obama and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone on Friday night, the first time the leaders from the two country's have communicated directly in more than 30 years.

As McClatchy, calling it a "stunning and unexpected development," reports:

Obama made the unplanned call to Rouhani as the Shiite Muslim cleric was being driven to John F. Kennedy International Airport after a four-day visit to New York that marked his debut on the world stage following his June election. Both men announced the conversation shortly after it took place, Rouhani on his Twitter feed and Obama at a White House appearance that had been scheduled to discuss a budget impasse with Congress.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations released a four-line statement, saying the two discussed “different issues,” including the need “for expediting a resolution of the West’s standoff with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program.”

Experts on Iran used a wide range of superlatives to discuss the call. Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the editor of its Iran@Saban blog, called it “hugely positive,” while Sam Brannen, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another Washington think tank, said it was a “historic but long overdue moment.” National Security Adviser Susan Rice, speaking on CNN, called it a “groundbreaking event.

According to The Guardian:

Both leaders expressed confidence their countries could reach a peaceful settlement to their standoff over Iranian nuclear programme. Obama, in his White House statement, said: "While there will be significant obstacles and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution. I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution."

Obama cautioned against over-optimism, however. "We're mindful of all the challenges ahead," he told reporters. "The test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place."

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