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Obama extends olive branch to Iran in UN speech

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-24

US President Barack Obama expressed his desire to resolve Iran’s controversial nuclear programme at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, but cautioned that the “roadblocks” might be too difficult to overcome.

US President Barack Obama commended Iran’s efforts in recent weeks to adopt what he deemed a “more moderate course” in a speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, saying it could serve as the foundation for an agreement over the country’s controversial nuclear programme.

“The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested,” he said. Obama cautioned, however, that the Iranian government’s “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable”.

The US president said that Secretary of State John Kerry had been directed to pursue negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. Kerry is due to join representatives from five other world powers on Thursday for talks with Iran’s foreign minister.

The West has long harboured suspicions that Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon – charges Tehran has denied.

Obama also called on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution that would impose consequences on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he fails to comply with a US-Russian initiative to strip his country of chemical weapons.

Obama went on to announce that the United States would provide $339 million in additional humanitarian aid to refugees and countries affected by violence in Syria, bringing the total US aid devoted to the crisis to nearly $1.4 billion.

More than 100,000 people have been killed by violence in Syria over the course of its two-and-a-half year conflict, while at least another two million have been displaced.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-09-24

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