Thursday 19 April 2018

Iran moves closer to high-level US talks

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Colin Freeman and Peter Foster

Iran's new president is expected to meet the US Secretary of State in Switzerland this week, in what would be the most high-level face-to-face talks between the two countries in three decades.

The prospect of an encounter between Hassan Rouhani and John Kerry came after the Iranian president used a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos to announce a new policy of "constructive engagement" with the outside world. Diplomats said a meeting with Mr Kerry, who flew into the Swiss town last night, was "likely" although not confirmed.

It would be a further step in Mr Rouhani's efforts towards restoring relations with the US, which were broken off in 1980.

Mr Rouhani has already spoken directly to US President Barack Obama by phone, but diplomatic sensitivities have restricted face-to-face meetings at higher levels.

In September, both presidents declined the opportunity to shake hands at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, despite speculation that they might do so.

Ongoing talks between the two countries led to last November's historic deal to end Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Mr Rouhani, a moderate reformist elected last June, used his speech in Davos yesterday to try to shed Iran's image as a belligerent power.

He avoided the strident anti-Western rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and claimed Iran had never intended to acquire a nuclear bomb. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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