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The push for possible Iran-U.S. dialogue received a boost by the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, which the U.S. and allies have blamed on Assad’s forces.
Obama has suggested Iran — a strong opponent of chemical weapons — could help pressure ally Assad into accepting a Russian-brokered plan to surrender stockpiles of lethal gas to international control. Iran suffered chemical attacks from Saddam Hussein’s forces — then backed by Washington — in the 1980-88 war with Iraq.
"The use of chemical weapons is a crime, we believe it is a crime against humanity, but we believe that also the use of force, the threat of use of force, is also a criminal offense in international law," Zarif told state-run Press TV Wednesday. "Unfortunately, it seems to me that the United States seems to be living in the 19th century when the use of force was a prerogative of states. It is not."
On Thursday, Rouhani made his first trip abroad since his inauguration in August, to the Kyrgyzstan summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional bloc. Rouhani is expected to hold separate talks with the leaders of Russia and China — both key to any international consensus over Assad’s chemical arsenal.
Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Leilaz believes Rouhani "will restore balance in Iran’s foreign policy through reviving relations with the West and clarifying its ties with the East."
The conservative Iranian news website alif.ir urged Rouhani to use his time in New York for intense diplomacy rather than spotlight-grabbing like Ahmadinejad.
"We hope that the president, far from the annual hue and cry of the previous administration, defends Iran’s stance strongly," it said. "Rouhani should ... use the opportunity to seek to end sanctions as well as regional disputes and conflict."
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