President Rouhani attacked by protesters in Iran following historic call with US President Barack Obama

 

Hardline protesters threw shoes and eggs at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and chanted "death to America", following the first conversation between American and Iranian presidents in more than three decades during a 15 minute phone call yesterday evening.

Hundreds rallied outside of Tehran airport, voicing either support or opposition for President Rouhani's shift in tone on Iran's nuclear programme.

The brief exchange between US President Barack Obama and Mr Rouhani could signal a major step forward in resolving global concerns over Iran's nuclear program.

Obama told reporters at the White House that the conversation, believed to have been instigated by the Iranian leader, was constructive.

"While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution," he said. 

Obama said he and Rouhani have instructed their teams to work towards reaching an agreement as swiftly as possible. He said the US will coordinate closely with its allies — including Israel, which considers an Iranian nuclear weapon capability to be an existential threat.

That it had been so long since American and Iranian presidents have held a conversation reflected the "deep mistrust between our countries," Obama said, but also indicated the opportunity for progression. 

"I do believe there is a basis for a resolution," he added. 

The conversation came hours after Rouhani, coming to the end of a trip to the US, called the United States a "great" nation, a sharp turnaround from his predecessors, buoying hopes that the two governments can stop the escalation of tensions. 

"I want it to be the case that this trip will be a first step, and a beginning for better and constructive relations with countries of the world as well as a first step for a better relationship between the two great nations of Iran and the United States of America," Rouhani told a news conference at a hotel near UN headquarters. 

Rouhani has pledged to reduce nuclear tensions and has asserted that Iran does not seek a nuclear bomb. UN officials have also reported what they describe as encouraging signs from Tehran.

Iranian and UN officials agreed have agreed to meet again on 28 October to continue talks on how to investigate suspicions that Iran worked secretly on trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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