Longtime advocates of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can often be heard saying that after decades of talks, “everyone knows what the deal on the table is.” Known it may be. But it always seems that one, the other, or both of the parties involved have their reasons for never being able to bite the bullet.
With Iranian President Hassan Rowhani and President Barack Obama, things are quite different.
From the moment the white-turbaned cleric strode into the reception room at New York’s One UN Hotel for the final press conference of his recent New York visit, he projected the air of a man who knows very well what the deal on the table is. And he seems eager to take it.
The process on which he is embarking, he told reporters, will “ensure that the Iranian people can enjoy their rights, and at the same time build confidence in the international community that those rights are being used for peaceful purposes.”
“Within a very short period of time there will be a settlement of the nuclear issue,” he said. “And step-by-step [this will] pave the way for Iran’s better relations with the West, including the expansion of economic ties, the expansion of cultural ties and the expansion of relations between the Western nations and Iran.”
This does not mean the talks to come will succeed. A better indication of that will come in Geneva, on October 15, when his foreign minister is scheduled to meet with the United States and other permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, to further develop what Rowhani termed his “constructive” initial engagements with the United States last week, discussions he described as “completely different from those in the past.”
But Rowhani understands quite well what the basic price will be for the end to Iran’s isolation, which is what he seeks. Asked if Iran was “ready to immediately open up its [nuclear] facilities” to put to rest the world’s concerns about their use to build nuclear weapons, he replied promptly that the negotiations “have been set up to serve this purpose.”