Rouhani writes letter to Obama, phones world leaders in diplomatic offensive

Iran continues to insist that all sanctions on the Islamic Republic be lifted in any nuclear agreement.

March 27, 2015 10:34
1 minute read.
Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Ahead of a March 31 deadline for a framework of a nuclear deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote a letter to US President Barack Obama and spoke to the leaders of Britain, China, France and Russia by telephone, according to France's AFP news service on Friday.

The Iranian president's diplomatic push comes on the heels of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's repeated insistence on Wednesday that all sanctions on Iran be lifted in any deal, showing no sign of compromise on a major sticking point in the talks.

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Though the topics of the phone discussions were revealed, the contents of the letter to Obama were yet to be released.

According to the office of French President Francois Hollande, Rouhani insisted on "Iran's legitimate right to use peaceful nuclear power [and] insisted on the need to work towards a lasting, robust and verifiable agreement."

According to the Iranian president's office, Rouhani told British Prime Minister David Cameron that Iranian negotiators "are acting in the national and international interest and we should not lose this exceptional opportunity."

"The peaceful character of (Iran's) nuclear activities and the necessity to annul all the unjust sanctions can lead us to a final deal," Rouhani said.

In response, Cameron "emphasized the importance of Iran showing flexibility on the outstanding issues in order for a deal to be reached," according to the British premier's office.

In the conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said that Rouhani expressed hope "for success at the new round of talks in Lausanne."

Last week, Iranian negotiators expressed optimism that diplomats were close to reaching a deal agreeable to Tehran. But the United States and France – parties to the negotiation alongside Britain, Germany, Russia and China – appeared split on key provisions, including how quickly sanctions against Iran should be lifted.

Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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