No handshake between Obama and Iran's leader, at least not this week
By CHRISTI PARSONS AND PAUL RICHTER | Tribune Washington Bureau
UNITED NATIONS — President Barack Obama's offer of a personal "encounter" with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly was rebuffed, the White House said Tuesday.
Iranian officials told the administration that it was "too complicated" for them to pull off right now.
The decision to not have a casual conversation - or even a handshake - at Tuesday's gathering of world leaders throws a bit of cold water on the seemingly warming relations between the two countries after decades of diplomatic standoff.
But analysts said it was not necessarily a significant setback, as the Iranian delegation wasn't all that interested in a photo opportunity to begin with.
Obama administration officials also note that Secretary of State John F. Kerry is still scheduled to meet this week with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, as the two sides explore the possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran's disputed nuclear program.
Rouhani is seeking relief from international sanctions meant to deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran maintains that its nuclear program is exclusively for civilian purposes, such as power generation and medical research.
In a morning address to the General Assembly, Obama opened the door to dialogue and welcomed Rouhani's public pledge that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.
But a one-on-one encounter between the presidents, under discussion for days, fell victim to Iranian politics, one administration official said in announcing the decision not to meet Tuesday.
"The Iranians have an internal dynamic that they have to manage," the senior administration official said. "And the relationship with the United States is clearly quite different than the relationship that Iran has with other Western countries, even."
©2013 Tribune Co.
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Obama GIVES them a nuclear blessing and they snub him in thanks? I have a feeling we, the people, will regret Obama's "deal".