Today, President Obama spoke with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the first communication between an American and Iranian President since 1979.
The two leaders discussed ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. In a statement this afternoon from the White House Briefing Room, President Obama said that while “success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution.”
I’ve directed Secretary Kerry to continue pursuing this diplomatic effort with the Iranian government. We had constructive discussions yesterday in New York with our partners — the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China — together with the Iranian Foreign Minister. Going forward, President Rouhani and I have directed our teams to continue working expeditiously, in cooperation with the P5-plus-1, to pursue an agreement. And throughout this process, we’ll stay in close touch with our friends and allies in the region, including Israel.
“Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran — one based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” President Obama said. “It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region — one that would help the Iranian people fulfill their extraordinary potential, but also help us to address other concerns that could bring greater peace and stability to the Middle East.”
Today’s announcement comes on the same day as a major diplomatic breakthrough on Syria, President Obama said this afternoon, as the UN Security Council will vote on a Resolution that would require the Assad regime to put its chemical weapons under international control, so they can ultimately be destroyed.
“This binding resolution will ensure that the Assad regime must keep its commitments, or face consequences,” President Obama said.
President Obama also spoke about two issues looming closer to home: the need for Congress to pass a budget, and pay our bills on time.
“If Congress chooses not to pass a budget by Monday — the end of the fiscal year — they will shut down the government, along with many vital services that the American people depend on,” President Obama said. “They also have to vote within the next couple of weeks to allow the Treasury to pay the bills for the money that Congress has already spent.”
My message to Congress is this: Do not shut down the government. Do not shut down the economy. Pass a budget on time. Pay our bills on time. Refocus on the everyday concerns of the American people.