Sept. 25 - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani uses debut U.N. speech to pledge readiness to engage in nuclear talks. Paul Chapman reports.
Iran's new president used his debut speech at the United Nations general assembly to condemn international sanctions against his country. Hassan Rouhani's speech lacked the strident anti-Western rhetoric of his predecessor. He offered no concessions but said Iran was willing to talk again about its nuclear programme. (SOUNDBITE)(Farsi) IRANIAN PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI SAYING: "In this context the Islamic Republic of Iran, insisting on the implementation of its rights and the imperative of international respect and co-operation in this exercise, is prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-orientated talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency." Israel's strategic affairs minister was unimpressed, describing Rouhani's speech as a game of deception. (SOUNDBITE)(English) YUVAL STEINITZ, ISRAELI STRATEGIC AFFAIRS MINISTER, SAYING: "We heard a lot of rhetoric but zero new steps or even zero new commitments to meet the U.N. Security Council resolutions." Several hundred protesters gathered outside the U.N. headquarters in New York to show their opposition to Rouhani. Some say Rouhani does not represent a change for the better in Iran and U.S. President Barack Obama should be cautious. (SOUNDBITE)(English) AMIR EMADI, PROTESTER, SAYING: "He's not talking to a moderate, he's talking to a murderous criminal who has the blood of Iranians on his hands. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DALARAM AHMADY, PROTESTER, SAYING: "I think the fact that President Obama and the rest of the nations are willing to listen to him is absolutely crazy because he's not a moderate. He's of the same regime." The White House said it was open to a meeting between the U.S. and Iranian leaders in New York. An official said later the Iranians had considered such an encounter too complicated.