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Obama, Iran's Rouhani Could Meet at United Nations

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday arrives in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. President Obama is reportedly open to the prospect of meeting directly with Rouhani next week at the U.N. General Assembly (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency). Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday arrives in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. President Obama is reportedly open to the prospect of meeting directly with Rouhani next week at the U.N. General Assembly (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency).

President Obama is open to the prospect of a face-to-face talk with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani next week at the U.N. General Assembly, and Washington is in communication with Tehran about potential lower-level, nuclear-related discussions on the forum's sidelines, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Any interaction between Obama and Rouhani, even informal, would mark a U.S. president's first direct contact with an Iranian head of state since the Middle Eastern country's 1979 Islamic revolution, the newspaper said. Both men are set on Tuesday to deliver speeches at the U.N. meeting.

Separately, a high-level U.S. government insider said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif "has been communicating his hopes for a number of meetings." U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman has a high chance next week of speaking with Zarif -- now Tehran's diplomatic coordinator in an international nuclear standoff -- if the officials take part in possible sideline talks with delegates from China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom, U.S. government personnel said.

Past dialogue between Iran and the six other nations has failed to clear up international worries that the Persian Gulf power's atomic activities are geared toward development of a nuclear-arms capacity. Tehran insists its atomic ambitions are purely nonmilitary in nature.

“The problem won't be from our side,” Rouhani told NBC News on Wednesday. “We have sufficient political latitude to solve this problem.”

Rouhani added that a written communication he had received from President Obama "was positive and constructive" in tenor.

Meanwhile, a U.S. court said a man from Sierra Leone should be detained on Thursday without bail pending trial for allegedly seeking to plan a multi-ton uranium-ore transfer from his country to Iran, the Associated Press reported.

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