As President Obama delivered an address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, he vowed to pursue stronger relations with Iran in an effort to alleviate longstanding tension between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic. HuffPost Live’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin spoke with Ali Gharib, former Senior Editor at The Daily Beast, and Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at The Atlantic, to discuss the remarks.
Obama’s calls for renewed openness with Iran were cautious, acknowledging the fraught history between the two countries. He emphasized the importance of settling the ongoing debate surrounding Iran’s nuclear future.
“I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship,” Obama said, “one based on mutual interests and respect.”
Both Gharib and Clemons expressed optimism about the conciliatory nature of the address.
“There was an acknowledgment of Iran’s grievances and even a nod to Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy…. ” said Gharib, "I think that [the remarks] will be welcome in diplomatic halls ranging from Turtle Bay to Tehran."
Obama insisted that his remarks were more than high-minded rhetoric, as he promised to direct John Kerry to aggressively pursue diplomatic talks with Iran.
Touching on this point, Clemons pointed out the primacy of U.S.-Iran relations to the United States' broader foreign policy goals.
“Right now the prospect of a normalization course with Iran ranks above every other potential strategic objective of the United States," he told Shihab-Eldin.