Iran’s New President Is Making His Rounds at the U.N.

Rumors swirled that the U.S. would be next, but Hassan Rouhani rejected an informal meeting with President Obama.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Sept. 24, 2013.
National Journal
Marina Koren
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Marina Koren
Sept. 24, 2013, 8:47 a.m.

This week, Ir­an’s newly elec­ted pres­id­ent, Has­san Rouh­ani, is do­ing something his pre­de­cessor seemed in­cap­able of: He’s mak­ing friends.

At least, in a dip­lo­mat­ic sense. Rouh­ani, who is con­sidered to be mod­er­ate com­pared with the hard-liners who came be­fore him, is meet­ing with world lead­er after world lead­er ahead of his speech to the United Na­tions Gen­er­al As­sembly on Tues­day. His Eng­lish Twit­ter ac­count has been doc­u­ment­ing his day in New York so far.

Pres­id­ent #Rouh­ani just con­cluded meet­ing with Fiji PM Bain­i­m­arama (as Chair of Group of 77 & China) #UNGA

— Has­san Rouh­ani (@Has­san­Rouh­ani) Septem­ber 24, 2013

Pres­id­ent #Rouh­ani now in meet­ing with #Aus­tri­an pres­id­ent, who says #sanc­tions hurt or­din­ary ppl & don’t work. #UNGA

— Has­san Rouh­ani (@Has­san­Rouh­ani) Septem­ber 24, 2013

#Rouh­ani also sched­uled to meet w/ re­cently- elec­ted Pakistani PM #Sharif this af­ter­noon. #Ir­an #Pakistan

#UNGA #Broth­er­hood

— Has­san Rouh­ani (@Has­san­Rouh­ani) Septem­ber 24, 2013

At the time of this writ­ing, the Ir­a­ni­an pres­id­ent is in a meet­ing with In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.

In his ad­dresses to the U.N., Ah­mad­ine­jad ten­ded to ali­en­ate world powers with his ag­gress­ive re­marks, which con­demned cap­it­al­ism, threatened Is­rael, and denied the Holo­caust. Rouh­ani’s grow­ing lineup of meet­ings with vari­ous lead­ers, however, sug­gests the speech he gives today won’t echo the words of his pre­de­cessor.

The speech, along with the string of meet­ings, sug­gests Rouh­ani is lay­ing the ground­work for fu­ture talks about his coun­try’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram. Some pre­dicted that Rouh­ani and Pres­id­ent Obama might shake hands at a lunch­eon Tues­day, but the Ir­a­ni­an pres­id­ent didn’t show. He then con­tin­ued his day of meet­ings with French Pres­id­ent François Hol­lande, ac­cord­ing to his Twit­ter ac­count.

The White House did, however, of­fer to or­gan­ize an in­form­al meet­ing between Obama and Rouh­ani on the side­lines of the day’s events, ac­cord­ing to pool re­ports. The Ir­a­ni­ans re­spon­ded such an en­counter was “too com­plic­ated for Ir­a­ni­ans to do at this point.”

This story has been up­dated.

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