President Obama is in New York this week for the meeting of the United Nations. It could be his most important address to the General Assembly, with talks on Syria and Iran on the agenda, and the possibility of one key meeting. Josh Robin has the story.
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. -- President Obama will shake many hands at the UN. None would likely be scrutinized more than a greeting with the new Iranian president. That 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 the first high-level meeting of both countries since the 1979 Iranian revolution. That sit down aims for Iranian assurance it won't seek nuclear weapons.
"In terms if whether we're on the of verge 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, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union.
Israel remains suspicious.
"Iran is getting closer and closer to a nuclear weapons," said Yuval Steinitz, Israel Minister of Intelligence.
Until the U.S. is sure that's not the case, sanctions against Iran are likely to continue.
The Obama administration also could 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 Richard Murphy, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria.
Monday, the President attended a roundtable on human rights and met with Nigeria's leader, where he talked about another crisis: The massacre at a mall 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.