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Iran and Syria on stage at UN: Real drama to replace shock theater

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And Obama, who came into office in 2009 extending a diplomatic hand to Tehran, also is likely to take note of the new tone from Iran’s leadership and to hold out hope for a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear challenge, perhaps even for a new era of cooperation between the US and Iran.

Obama will underscore in his speech that the US remains open to and prefers “peaceful resolution” of the Iranian nuclear standoff, says Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. But the president will also reiterate that it won’t be Iran’s rhetoric, but the steps it takes to prove the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, that the US and the international community want to see.

“We’ve always made clear we’re going to make decisions based on the actions of the Iranian government,” Mr. Rhodes says, “not on their words.”

Also next week, though on a side stage, the UN Security Council will try to deliver a stalled resolution needed to back up the Syrian chemical weapons plan. Western powers want the resolution to have the teeth to prevent Mr. Assad from dallying or backtracking on a commitment he has made to give up all of Syria’s chemical weapons. Russia has so far balked at endowing the resolution with any recourse to the use of force, fearing the US, France, and others might take that as a green light to launch military strikes against Assad.

The Security Council won’t be the only venue for Syria action. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to push forward on the convening of a Syria peace conference. Mr. Ban has suggested that a successful meeting could even result in the setting of a conference date for sometime in October.

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