Politics

White House: Obama open to meeting with Iran's Rouhani at UN

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a parliament session to elect the cabinet members on August 15, 2013 in Tehran. Iran MPs approve 15 of Rouhani's 18 cabinet picks.

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BEHROUZ MEHRI

The White House said Thursday it was "possible" US President Barack Obama could meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani next week in New York, if Iran signals it is willing to give up on its nuclear ambitions.

The presidents are both due to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, prompting speculation over whether or not the two will shake hands.

No American president has met a top Iranian leader since Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown in 1979.

While the White House has said nothing is officially planned, spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday: "It's possible... The extended hand has been there from the moment the president was sworn in."

"We are all watching and listening closely and with interest to the things that the new leadership has been saying," Carney added.

More from GlobalPost: Rouhani says Iran will 'never' develop nuclear weapons

The comments come a day after Rouhani told NBC News that Iran did not seek war and would never develop nuclear weapons.

Other signs of Iranian's renewed effort to work with the West include Wednesday's decision to release 12 political prisoners, and a recent exchange of letters between Rouhani and Obama.