John Kerry will meet with his Iranian counterpart to discuss the Middle Eastern nation's future nuclear program at the U.N. this week, along with other representatives from the Security Council's permanent members and Germany.
The U.S.-Iranian dialogue is a top talker ahead of the annual U.N. General Assembly to begin on Tuesday. The White House has affirmed that President Barack Obama would not meet officially with Hasan Rouhani, the new Iranian president who is spearheading a recent public initiative to show the moderate side of Iran's government.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif would meet with the members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, known as "P-5+1," according to Reuters. They will discuss the Iranian nuclear program, which has prompted sanctions and grave concerns from the West over the potential threats it could pose.
Iran's new public relations offensive began in early September when Rouhani took to Twitter to wish all Jews "a blessed Rosh Hashanah." This was a stark contrast against his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who openly denied that the Holocaust ever took place.
Zarif followed up the next day with a Twitter exchange with Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
It began with his note, "Happy Rosh Hashanah." Pelosi responded with "Thanks. The New Year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran's Holocaust denial, sir."
Zarif responded, "Iran has never denied it. The man who did [Ahmadinejad] is now gone. happy new year."
Rouhani has prefaced the annual General Assembly to say that his visit will show "the true face of Iran," according to Reuters. He stresses his country is willing to prove to the world it does not have the intention of creating nuclear weapons.
Iran also confirmed Monday it released 80 political prisoners shortly after Rouhani left for New York, reports Fox News, following through on a commitment he made last week.
A former Iranian political dissident who was repeatedly jailed in his home country was among critics who aired suspicions of Iran's latest moves to U.S. News last week.
A White House spokesman told reporters on Friday that the U.S. supports Iran's recent overtures for a constructive dialogue, stressing that it must follow these words with actions.
"There remains time to pursue a diplomatic path," said Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security advisor on Friday, adding that there were no scheduled meetings between Obama and Rouhani. The White House has made it clear that it is open to bilateral discussions with the Iranians, he said.
"The issues between the United States and Iran are not ones that would be settled in any one discussion, and there's longstanding differences, particularly related to the nuclear program," Rhodes said. "We're willing to address those diplomatically."