In a rare move that might end the chronic impasse between arch-enemies the US and Iran, President Barack Obama could meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rowhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
"I would just say that in general, it's possible. But it has always been possible. The extended hand has been there from the moment the President was sworn into office," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters here.
However, when asked directly if there would be a meeting in New York next week, Carney said, "there are currently no plans for the President Barack Obama to meet with President Hassan Rowhani."
"It's fair to say that the President believes there is an opportunity for diplomacy when it comes to the issues that have presented challenges to the United States and our allies with regards to Iran, and we hope that the Iranian government takes advantage of this opportunity," Carney said.
Hassan Rowhani, a moderate cleric, will travel to the US to attend the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly wherein he will address the world leaders on the same day as Barack Obama.
Any meeting between President Barack Obama and Hassan Rowhani next week would be historic. The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the Western-backed Shah regime after massive countrywide protests.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also welcomed the recent comments made by Hassan Rowhani that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons, but deflected questions about a possible meeting between the two presidents.
"I think Hassan Rowhani's comments have been very positive, but everything needs to be put to the test," Kerry told reporters yesterday.
In an interview to the NBC news channel aired yesterday, Hassan Rowhani said: "under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons".
In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Hassan Rowhani called for a "constructive interaction" with the United States.
"As I depart for New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly, I urge my counterparts to seize the opportunity presented by Iran's recent election," he wrote.
I urge them to "respond genuinely to my government's efforts to engage in constructive dialogue. Most of all, I urge them to look beyond the pines and be brave enough to tell me what they see - if not for their national interests, then for the sake of their legacies, and our children and future