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Opens new page in relations between Iran the United States / Breaking News


A symbolic meeting between US President Barack Obama and new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani could take place in New York UN later.

There has not been a face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the two countries since 1979.

President Barack Obama and Iranian new President  Dr Hasan Rouhani are in New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly and there has already been an exchange of letters between the leaders.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said no meeting was scheduled, however the possibility of a brief exchange had not been ruled out.

A meeting would be significant as the US looks to get the stalled nuclear talks back on track.

In a recent interview Mr Obama said: “I think this new president is not going to suddenly make it easy. But, you know, my view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact, you can strike a deal.”

However, Mr Obama has come in for criticism from some Republicans, who point out that the Iranian president is not head of state – Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is – and therefore the US leader is meeting an official with an inferior position to his own.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said Iran must take “concrete steps” to address concerns over its nuclear behaviour.

He spoke after talks with his counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif, which covered the country’s nuclear programme, human rights and the conflict in Syria.

“The United Kingdom does not seek a confrontational relationship with Iran and is open to better relations,” Mr Hague said.

“The United Kingdom welcomes President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif’s recent statements about Iran’s wish to improve its relations with the outside world.

“The time is now right for those statements to be matched by concrete steps by Iran to address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s intentions.

“If such steps are taken, I believe a more constructive relationship can be created.”

Tensions between Tehran and the West appeared to have eased in recent days, with Dr Rouhani saying he is ready for discussions over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

Dr Rouhani, who has vowed to reach out to the world, has said his UN appearance may be a chance to start a new round of nuclear negotiations.

Prime Minister David Cameron made the unusual move of writing to Dr Rouhani following his election earlier this year, expressing the hope that there could be a step-by-step improvement in relations between the two countries.

Dr Rouhani, who is seen as a moderate cleric, called for dialogue with the West after winning a landslide victory in the June 14 presidential elections.

Britain has not had a diplomatic presence in Iran since November 2011 when its embassy in Tehran was stormed by a mob, triggering one of the worst crises between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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