Iran Talks, More Calculated Than Advertised, Begin

Report indicates Obama worked hard for that Rouhani phone call

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 7, 2013 7:38 AM CST | Updated Nov 7, 2013 8:01 AM CST

(Newser) – Talks kick off today between Iran and the other P5+1 nations, and both sides were brimming with cautious optimism. Iranian negotiator Mohammad Javed Zarif touted the possibility of a breakthrough, while a senior Obama administration official said that they see "the outlines of a first step," the New York Times reports. Here are the stories about the talks today:

  • The US wants Iran to freeze its nuclear activities, perhaps for six months, and negotiate a broader deal in the interim. In exchange, Iran would get some limited, temporary sanction relief. Exact details are hazy, but the five other negotiating nations have signed off on the plan, the Washington Post reports.

  • This entire rapprochement with Iran kicked into high gear following a much-touted phone call from President Rouhani to President Obama. But the fateful call wasn't as spontaneous as it was made out to be, the Wall Street Journal revealed today. Obama had been quietly reaching out to Tehran for months, sources say. The administration hosted a series of secret meetings and calls with Iranian exiles and Arab monarchs, and gave Iranian expert Puneet Talwar free rein to converse with Iran. Susan Rice was also enlisted to talk with Iran's UN ambassador.
  • Not everyone's thrilled about the thaw. Countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia have been making their displeasure known. "On a good day, we're paranoid about Iran," one senior Arab official says. And some in Washington are listening; Bob Corker is considering introducing legislation to block negotiations, mandating far greater concessions before sanctions are lifted, Fox News reports.

A general view shows participants before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva Switzerland, Nov. 7, 2013.
A general view shows participants before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva Switzerland, Nov. 7, 2013.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)
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