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Obama directs Kerry to pursue Iranian nuclear deal

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September 24, 2013 10:41 AM EST | AP

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UNITED NATIONS — President Barack Obama says he has directed Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue a nuclear weapons agreement with Iran and that he firmly believes "the diplomatic path must be tested."

Obama told the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday he's encouraged that Iranian President Hasan Rouhani is pursuing a more moderate course. But he said Rouhani's "conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable."

The West has long suspected that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon. Tehran has consistently denied the charge.

It's still unclear if Obama will meet with Rouhani while at the United Nations. The leaders of the two countries haven't had face-to-face contact in more than 30 years.

U.S. officials say no meeting is planned, although they haven't ruled one out.