|Iranian President Hassan Rouhani|
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday, September 25 that ties with the United States had improved, although there was “still a long road to travel” before the two estranged nations could have normal relations, Reuters reports.
“The situation has certainly changed,” Rouhani, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, told a group of senior editors from media organizations at a nearby hotel. “We can point to the tangibles, the many steps forward, but there is still a long road to travel.”
He described the historic nuclear deal between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China as a “big test” for U.S.-Iranian relations and said that it was important to create an atmosphere of trust.
“If we continue on the path, the road will be paved to further cooperation and collaboration,” he said, adding that “we have seen good faith between the two sides.”
The White House has said there was no meeting planned between Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama while they are at UN headquarters in the coming days. Rouhani suggested it would be premature to discuss encounters between the two men.
“Before talking about meetings or handshakes,” Rouhani said, the two countries should focus on resolving issues.
Still, Rouhani’s first public remarks since arriving in New York were more upbeat than what Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said earlier this month. Khamenei said Tehran would not negotiate with the United States on any issue after the landmark nuclear deal with the six world powers in July.
The United States and Iran have been at odds since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and the U.S. hostage crisis that followed. Deep differences remain over Middle East conflicts, as well as what Washington sees as Iran’s support for terrorism and poor human rights record.