WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the ice was already "beginning to break" between his country and the West, although no meeting or hand-shaking has taken place with his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, in New York.
Rouhani, who addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time as Iranian president on Tuesday afternoon, continued to strike a conciliatory note in an interview with CNN.
There had been reports and speculation that Obama and Rouhani might meet informally on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. But White House officials confirmed on Tuesday that no such bilateral meeting would take place. They indicated that such an encounter would prove "too complicated" for the Iranian side back home.
When asked about the issue, Rouhani said there had been "some talks" to arrange a meeting to give the two an opportunity to "talk with each other" but there was not sufficient time to really coordinate such a meeting.
"But speaking of the ice-breaking you mentioned, it's already beginning to break because the environment is changing. And that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of the relations between Iran and the rest of the world," Rouhani said in Persian.
Asked whether he has been "authorized" by the Iranian supreme leader for recent moves to improve ties with the West, Rouhani said the Iranian president has the authority to talk with others when national interests dictate.
The supreme leader, he said, is not opposed to negotiations if they are necessary for the national interests of Iran.
When the CNN host asked him at the end of the interview to deliver a message directly to the U.S. public, Rouhani said in English, "I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans."
In his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, Rouhani said that Iran seeks "constructive engagement" with other countries based on mutual respect and common interests, and that a political solution should be pursued for the nuclear issue of Iran.
He argued that Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful and pledged that nuclear weapons have "no place" in Iran's security and defense doctrine.
Before his trip to New York, Rouhani caught the world by surprise when he called for constructive engagement with the West in an op-ed in last Friday's Washington Post newspaper.
In his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday morning, Obama said he had tasked Secretary of State John Kerry with pursuing diplomacy with the Iranian government.
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