September 27th, 2013
07:15 PM ET
1 year ago

Susan Rice: Rouhani asked Obama to call him

Washington (CNN) – National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Friday described the first phone call between an American president and his Iranian counterpart in more than three decades as “cordial” and “constructive.”

Rice told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that the Iranian delegation approached the Obama administration about a phone call between President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The request came after indicating earlier in the week that a direct meeting at the UN General Assembly would not be possible due to Iran’s internal political reality.

“Today, somewhat surprisingly, we were contacted by them to say that President Rouhani would like to speak to President Obama on the telephone on his way out of town, and we were able to make that call come together and it was a constructive conversation,” Rice said.

The full interview will air on “Fareed Zakaria GPS” Sunday at 10 a.m and 1 p.m. ET.

According to Rice, Friday’s call lasted about 15 minutes. “Of course, with translation, it was a brief call, but sufficient to convey messages from both sides,” she said.

“Obviously when you have two leaders from two countries that have not communicated at that level for almost 35 years, it’s something of a ground-breaking event. But they both conveyed their commitment to try and explore in a constructive manner the diplomatic path,” Rice said.

Shift in policy? Phone call between Obama, Rouhani

Rice reiterated that a nuclear weapon in Iran is unacceptable to Obama. For his part, Rouhani has said Iran has no interest in ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, although that assertion has been met with some skepticism.

Rice cited a variety of factors that led to the potential shift in U.S.-Iranian relations, including international pressure and sanctions on Iran as well as Rouhani’s election, a moderate replacing anti-America hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“There is an opportunity now to test the proposition of that diplomatic settlement,” Rice said.


Filed under: Fareed Zakaria GPS • Iran • President Obama • Susan Rice
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    I do not misguide my nation, I think we need to grab this opportunity with Iran. Enough destabilizing Middle-East, but we need to tighten our visa system too.

    September 27, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Honest clear communication , it's the only way to build respect and trust .

    I hope this is a new beginning to a long friendship . And I hope the Saudis and the Israelis help to bring diplomacy to the region.

    It's about time

    September 27, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  3. the hippies were right

    And the religous right will still want to blow Iran and their innocent people off the map. HYPOCRITES!

    September 27, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. Patrick Henry II

    Do not think for a minute that the Iranian leadership has had a change of heart. They're just changing tactics to see if they can still get what they want in another way. If you want to take candy from a baby, you don't rip it out of his hand and knock over his carriage in the process. Rather, you speak and coo very softly to distract him while gently removing the candy while he's not noticing. In the same way, the Iranians are beginning to speak and coo very softly to Obama...

    September 27, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. JRJ

    Leaders acting like adults????.?.

    Oh Oh here come the wackos. It's an Obama Muslim plot. maybe, but it doesn't hurt to listen,

    September 27, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  6. Anthony in California

    Remember when Bin Laden was taken out by a dozen of our black op finest, mere hours after cracking jokes at a correspondents banquet...

    Remember when Obama kept the US out of WW3 by playing good politics with Russia and Syria.
    Remember how we didnt lose a single life over those chemical weapons (im looking at you GWB).

    Remember how we shifted the attention to Syria's pal Iran, and how Obama played it cool at the recent global summit.
    Now Iran is asking the President to "call me, maybe..."

    But hey.. "leading from Behind" seems to be paying off.
    Now if the House Republicans would get out of the way, maybe America's internal problems would have just as much success as well....

    September 27, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  7. Don

    Iran knows Obama is weak and stupid. Are we to believe that Iran is giving up their nuclear program?? BS.
    I don't trust Iran or Russia until it is completely verifiable what they say is true. Nuclear weapons and nerve gas.
    Obama is probably kissing their fannies and then telling the American people he negotiated all this wonderful stuff that is not verifiable. And Obama's puppet will go along with this.

    September 27, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  8. damienfish

    C'mon Obama, don't fall for it. This guy is just working the media.

    September 27, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  9. Bradley

    Simply put....

    Rouhani is just a sheep in wolf's clothing.

    September 27, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  10. Judy

    One can't take anything serious that comes out of Rice's mouth. She's another Zionist puppet just like Obama.

    September 27, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  11. observer1776

    Obama has thrown Israel under the bus for Syria and Iran.

    September 27, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    Obama legacy stand well and alive. I am very confident. This president is very smart, kind, thinking-oriented. Unlike other presidents. Hats off.

    September 27, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. The Elephant In The Room

    Interesting that this Iranian needed a visible example of Mr. Obama being willing to talk to him. That should be used to our advantage. Keep the heat on him Mr. Prez. A timely set of actions that show real progress in the direction we want, clearly verifiable evidence of compliance and THEN we can TALK about relaxing sanctions.

    September 27, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  14. ED1

    Has everybody lost their minds Iran still have the clerics in charge that hate our guts.

    Wake up this is not time to play nice and forget what their main ambition is wipe us out and anybody who is with us too.

    September 27, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  15. Evergreen

    Thank you Mr. President for being a wise leader. Talking out differences is so much better than putting our young men and women in harms way just because we don't want to talk to those we have a problem with.

    September 27, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  16. rexedie

    its good to finally see some communication between our leaders. the poker "hold em" strategy is way to old and childish...

    September 27, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  17. What's in that tea anyway?

    Without a shot being fired, this country now has a chance to meet a foreign policy goal unachieved by the last 5 administration – Congrats Obama Admin. No matter where it goes from here, this is proof positive the sanction this administration has put into place is yielding results. Now watch the GOP/TPer knuckle draggers will whine, complain and shout for impeachment because Pres. Obama is making progress speaking to a sworn enemy of this country, and yet, the GOP / Tea Party is now on the terrorism watch list – Shut 'er down huh (?) Dog barks at moon

    September 27, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  18. Donald

    It's more important that Obama and his administration had the DESIRE to even want to call Rouhani. So it's great to see progress and hands being extended both ways. Lots of leaders would want Obama to call them...

    September 28, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  19. texasgoat

    Rouhani contacted the white house wanting to see the vidio that Rice lied about.

    September 28, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |