Iran, US leaders speak for first time since 1979



Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, takes the oath of office.


Atta Kenare

— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) September 27, 2013

Speaking at a White House press conference Friday, US President Barack Obama confirmed that he had spoken by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in what is the first direct contact between the leaders of the two countries in more than 30 years.

Obama's announcement followed a relatively low-profile announcement by Rouhani via Twitter, with a first tweet that said simply, "Phone conversation between @HassanRouhani and @BarackObama."

That message, later deleted, was followed by more detailed tweets from the Iranian leader's account indicating that Rouhani and Obama discussed their shared desire to resolve nuclear issues.

"Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama told reporters.

"I do believe that there is a basis for resolution."

It appeared from Rouhani's Twitter account that it was Obama who placed the momentous call.

NBC news reported that the call appeared to come as a surprise to Rouhani, according to an Iranian official who witnessed the conversation. Rouhani and Obama spent about 10 minutes speaking, without an interpreter, the official said, before Rouhani departed New York after a week of meetings and high-profile media appearances.

More from GlobalPost: Iran no longer irate

The diplomatic thaw followed strong signals from Rouhani in recent weeks that Iran is leaving behind the firebrand rhetoric of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's days and seeking a relationship with the US.