Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday called the signs coming from Iran “positive,” but demurred on the validity of rumors that President Obama and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani would meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week.
Kerry had just spoke on Syria, confirming that the U.S. views the recent United Nations report as proof that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime launched last month’s chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell managed to catch Kerry’s attention as he was walking away from the podium, asking him to comment on whether next week’s rumored meetings were true. “The White House needs to speak to that,” Kerry said in response.
After more pressure from Mitchell, Kerry added, “Rouhani’s comments are very positive but everything needs to be put to the test to see where we go, and at the right moment, I think the White House and State Department will make clear where we’re headed.” While Kerry was loathe to give details, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has said that though no meeting between Obama and Rouhani is scheduled, the president “willing to have that meeting … provided that Iran demonstrates a seriousness about dealing with its nuclear weapons program.”
The Iranian government has been on something of a public relations blitz in recent months, including Rouhani and his Foreign Minister both taking to Twitter and the new administration releasing several political prisoners on Wednesday. Rouhani on Wednesday sat down with NBC’s Ann Curry, where he declared that his country would never develop nuclear weapons. “In its nuclear program, this government enters with full power and has complete authority,” Rouhani said, adding he had “sufficient political latitude to solve this problem.”