Senior senators from both parties have urged President Barack Obama to be cautious in his dealings with Iran ahead of the U.S. General Assembly meeting in New York this week.
In letters delivered to the White House on Monday, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York warned Obama that a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could be used by Tehran to buy time for the development of nuclear weapons, reports The Hill
“Talks cannot be merely a stalling tactic, while Iran continues to move forward with aggressive enrichment of uranium,” wrote McCain and Schumer.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey also wrote to the president
urging him to take a tough line on Iran.
“Like you, we viewed the election of Hassan Rouhani as an indicator of discontent amongst the Iranian people and we have taken note of recent diplomatic overtures by Iran,” said Graham and Menendez.
“However,” they continued, “whatever nice words we may hear from Mr. Rouhani, it is Iranian action that matters.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani took an even harsher line, saying on "Fox and Friends"
on Tuesday that Obama should not even shake Rouhani’s hand.
“I don’t believe this is the point at which he should be shaking hands with him. There should be more demanded of Rouhani. He’s been responsible for the murder of thousands of people… He has a lot of blood on his hands,” said Giuliani.
“He should be required to go through a couple of steps before he talks to the president — like be willing to give us an inventory of all of his nuclear facilities, like he should start dismantling them, and we should have inspectors and the inspectors should start inspecting so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Rouhani has on several occasions
in the run up to his trip to the U.S. called for broad dialogue among world leaders to solve the problems in the Middle East.
On Monday, supporters who run a Twitter page in Rouhani's name lobbied for a meeting with Obama, quoting a poll saying 96 percent supported a meeting with Obama.
Whether that will happen at the United Nations is still in the air. Plans were finalized Monday for the highest level talks between the two countries in more than 30 years, bringing Secretary of State John Kerry together Thursday with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his counterparts from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council who are negotiating with Tehran on its nuclear program, reports The Wall Street Journal
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