Iran Wants to Make a Deal
Rouhani writes encouraging op-ed in Washington Post
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2013 7:48 AM CDT
Iran's President Hasan Rouhani steps out of his plane upon arrival to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Sept. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/Presidency Office, Mohsen Rafinejad)

(Newser) – Iran thinks it's poised to finally bury the hatchet with the US and strike a sanctions-ending nuclear dealbecause officials believe President Obama offered that kind of rapprochement in his letter to newly-elected moderate Hasan Rouhani, a top Iranian adviser tells the New York Times. In Iran's reading, Obama offered face-to-face talks and promised to lift sanctions if Rouhani demonstrates a willingness to "keep your commitments and remove ambiguities." But Washington's interpretation is much less dramatic; an official says Obama wasn't necessarily promising leader-to-leader talks, or any specific sanction action.

Rouhani wants to strike a quick deal in the next six months, before parliamentary elections begin. The normally politically powerful military is currently defanged, and Ayatollah Khamenei appears to be on board. In the meantime Rouhani's on a charm offensive. He wrote an op-ed in today's Washington Post in which he offers to "help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition," and promises an attempt to "move beyond impasses" with regard to Iran's nuclear program. He's on the interview circuit as well, with one coming up with Charlie Rose. Next week he'll give his first UN address, and for once the US may not walk out, the Post reports. Obama is speaking the same day, so the two might even meet.