White House insiders fear that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani turned down a brief meeting proposed for Tuesday with President Obama to avoid a domestic political backlash, possibly signaling that the relatively moderate leader lacks adequate authority in Tehran to settle an international standoff over its suspected nuclear-arms ambitions, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Washington officials on Tuesday conferred at a “working level” with Iranian counterparts to orchestrate a brief encounter between the leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, but “it became clear that that was too complicated for [the Iranians] at this time,” a high-level Obama insider told reporters on Tuesday.
Rouhani gave a speech reaffirming his country’s determination to continue enriching uranium for peaceful use, even though Washington and other governments worry Tehran could harness the process to generate bomb fuel. Earlier on Tuesday, Obama urged Tehran to abide by U.N. Security Council demands for Iran to fully suspend its uranium enrichment program.
Obama insiders told the Journal that Rouhani’s address did not catch them off guard. “Iran has a baseline set of positions they have taken for a long time,” one high-level source said. “We would not expect them to shift their negotiations publicly.”
Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called for a “time limit” on any new nuclear discussions with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Tehran would stress its “right of enrichment on Iranian territory” in any new meeting, spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham added.
Iran’s top diplomat and delegates from the six negotiating governments are expected on Thursday to consider the “trend” of prior meetings, the spokeswoman said, adding that “an agreement has been struck to continue the talks in mid-October in Geneva.”
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.