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Obama must seize diplomatic opening with Iran to help end Syria crisis

Diplomacy is alive again at the United Nations this week. And it's deeply needed. President Obama should make clear to Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani that Iran would be welcome to participate in a conference to discuss an end to the civil war in Syria.

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President Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York Sept. 24. Op-ed contributor David Owen writes: 'Over time, as a civil war [in Syria] emerged, events have demonstrated that just as Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan have to be involved [in peace negotiations], so does Iran.'

Andrew Burton/Reuters

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The eyes of the world are focused on the United Nations in New York this week in an amazing turnabout in international politics. We could have been in the midst of a Middle East war with the United States and France having attacked Syria, triggering resumed fighting across the border of southern Lebanon and Israel. Instead, the UN is back on center stage, the Security Council is functioning again, and its five permanent powers are in a constructive dialogue over chemical weapons in Syria for the first time in two and a half years.

And in an immensely encouraging sign, we have the presence in New York of the new president of Iran, Hasan Rouhani, clearly intent on improving relations with the US and President Obama and talking the language of peace on how to accommodate Iran’s right to have a civil nuclear-power program with respected non-proliferation treaty safeguards to prevent the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

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