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President's Agenda For UN General Assembly May Signal Major Thaw In U.S.-Iran Relations

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TWC News: President's Agenda For UN General Assembly May Signal Major Thaw In U.S.-Iran Relations
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As the United Nations General Assembly convenes this week, a scheduled meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister as well as a possible greeting between President Obama and Iranian Preside Hassan Rouhani could signal a major thaw in the relationship between the U.S. and Iran. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

President Obama will shake many hands at the United Nations, though none would likely be scrutinized more than a greeting with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The greeting would mark a significant thaw to more than three decades of hostility.

Hassan Rouhani is seen as conciliatory, certainly more so than his Holocaust-denying predecessor.

"The passion of the Iranians is friendship all around the world," Rouhani said.

While the face-to-face encounter is still uncertain, Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Iranian's American-educated foreign minister.

It will be one of the highest-level meetings of both countries since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The sit down aims for Iran's assurance that the country will not seek nuclear weapons.

"In terms of whether we're on the verge of a breakthrough, I would put it like this, that I was struck, as I've said, by the energy and determination that the foreign minister demonstrated to me," said Catherine Ashton from the European Union.

Israel remains suspicious.

"Iran is getting closer and closer to the nuclear weapons," said Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz.

Until the United States is sure that's not the case, sanctions against Iran are likely to continue.

The Obama administration could also use Iran's help in ending a civil war in Syria.

Iran backs the Syrian regime - a regime the U.S. is warning must give up its chemical weapons, after it used them on civilians last month.

Syria for the first time is acknowledging its arsenal, after a deal between the U.S. and Russia, which also backs Syria.

Still, Syria could resist turning the weapons over, unless it finds itself under new pressure from allies.

"This week could be a week to remember in history, if it develops in a positive direction," said former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Richard Murphy.

On Monday, the President attended a roundtable on human rights and met with Nigeria's leader, where he talked about the crisis surrounding the mall massacre in Kenya.

"This I think underscores the degree to which all of us, as an international community, have to stand against the kind of senseless violence that these kinds of groups represent," Obama said.

The group behind the attack is believed to be Islamic radicals based in Somalia.

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