UK & World News
Rouhani: Iran Ready To Resume Nuclear Talks
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani has confirmed his country is prepared to immediately begin stalled negotiations over its nuclear programme.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Dr Rouhani said that he wanted to enter talks to build "mutual confidence" but warned the international community should also recognise Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
He said that the US and Iran could "manage our differences" if Washington did not give in to the influence of "warmongering pressure groups".
President Obama cautiously welcomed his counterpart's recent diplomatic gestures, but the highly anticipated handshake between the two men failed to materialise.
A senior US administration official said that the Americans were open to the idea of an informal meeting but it had proved "too complicated" for the Iranians.
The failure to achieve even a fleeting encounter on the sidelines of the General Assembly underscores the deep divisions between the US and Iran.
In a speech to UN member states, President Obama insisted that Iran's resolve to ease tensions over its nuclear ambitions should be "tested".
He said: "We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian programme is peaceful.
"To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.
"The road blocks may prove to be too great but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested."
The speeches follow a slight thawing of relations between America and Iran after an exchange of letters and other conciliatory statements by the new Iranian leadership.
Later this week, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is to meet with the p5+1 - the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany - to restart stalled talks on the country's nuclear ambitions.
Western allies say Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons capability.
Iran insists it has only peaceful ambitions and wants the technology for power stations and medical research.
The p5+1 meeting will be the highest-level engagement between US and Iranian counterparts since the freezing of diplomatic relations between the two countries over 30 years ago.
In many ways this might represent a welcome chance for President Obama to open a positive chapter in American foreign policy following his widely criticised handling of Syria.
If his administration is successful in achieving real progress, it will also be one of the cornerstones of his presidential legacy.
But renewing relations with Iran is a double-edged sword for President Obama.
He is wary of appearing too eager to welcome Hassan Rouhani in from the diplomatic cold, in part, because of the public's deep distrust of Iran.
In his UN speech he said: "Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy, and directly - or through proxies - taken Americans hostage, killed US troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction."