On Obama's Agenda: Historic Handshake?

It could happen today with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2013 6:58 AM CDT
Updated Sep 24, 2013 7:58 AM CDT
On Obama's Agenda: Historic Handshake?
In this Sept. 5, 2013, President Barack Obama reaches to shakes hands with ... Putin. But Hassan Rouhani could be on the receiving end today.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool File)

(Newser) – Today could bring what Time describes as the most historic handshake since "Nixon and Elvis" (or, more seriously, "Rabin and Arafat"): President Obama and new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani will meet for the first time at the UN General Assembly today, and everyone from government officials to the media is swirling over the possibility that leaders of the two nations could make their first "contact" since the country's 1979 Revolution. Amping up the situation: the setting, which previous president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad liked to use as a platform for questioning the Holocaust and the 9/11 attacks.

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If it does occur, ABC News pegs the luncheon hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the most likely time and place, and a former White House official tells NBC News the opportunity will be a short-lived one: "You could walk up to someone and start a conversation but there's a very short window to do it until they are seated." At Time, Michael Crowley points out that the handshake could happen "out of the view of reporters and photographers, limiting its symbolic impact." If it doesn't occur, expect the analysis to shift to Rouhani's afternoon address. In the wings: John Kerry will meet later this week with other world powers and Iran's foreign minister; the BBC describes it as "the highest level US-Iran contact for more than 30 years." (Read more UN General Assembly stories.)

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