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Iranian parliament backs Rouhani’s push for dialogue, Israel remains wary

Rouhani gets thumbs up from parliament, Obama cuts short Asia trip, and Nigeria’s economy is in danger ahead of presidential elections.

Stamp of approval. The Iranian Parliament supported President Hassan Rouhani’s diplomatic push for open dialogue with the U.S. over his country’s disputed nuclear program during the U.N. General Assembly talks in New York. Of 290 parliamentarians, 230 signed a statement of support for the leader, lauding Rouhani’s portrayal of a “powerful and peace-seeking Iran which seeks talks and interaction for the settlement of regional and international issues”:

The backing from the assembly, controlled by political factions deeply loyal to Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a further sign that Rouhani has the support of the Iranian establishment, though there are some rumblings from hardliners. Khamenei, the most powerful figure in Iran, has yet to publicly comment on Rouhani’s trip… Inside Iran, even as conservatives fall in line behind Rouhani who secured a landslide election win in June with promises of moderation in foreign policy, there were signs that some feared the president was going too fast, too soon.

Last week, Presidents Obama and Rouhani spoke on the phone in a historic instance of direct communication. On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency met with Iran over their nuclear plan. Though both sides said the talks were constructive, diplomats reported no real progress in resolving the standoff. The U.S. and Israel fear that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear arms, a charge Iran strongly denies. During his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated concerns over Rouhani’s sincerity:

“Rouhani doesn’t sound like Ahmadinejad,” Netanyahu said, referring to Rouhani’s hardline predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose annual U.N. addresses were stridently anti-Western and anti-Israel. “But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing, Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community,” Netanyahu said.

The U.S. Senate it likely won’t impose new sanctions on Iran until after another round of nuclear talks in mid-October.

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