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But even if the chemical weapons stockpiles are safely destroyed, the people of Syria will remain in the same situation as before. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and joint U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi have said countless times that the only solution for Syria's war is a political one. But Russia and Iran continue to support Assad diplomatically, financially and militarily, while the U.S., EU and Gulf states support the rebels in much the same way.
Iran's new outreach
On Wednesday, Rouhani told NBC news that his government would never develop nuclear weapons. Days before that, his government released 11 prominent political prisoners. Earlier this month, he sent New Year's greetings to Jews around the world on Twitter. The White House has cautiously welcomed what seems to be an olive branch from Tehran, saying it hoped the Iranian government would "engage substantively" to reach a solution and address concerns about Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects could be aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Last Sunday, in an interview with ABC, President Barack Obama said he and Rouhani have exchanged letters, feeding speculation that the two presidents may meet on the sidelines of the Assembly -- which would be the first meeting between an Iranian and American leader since before the 1979 hostage crisis.
Even a casual Rouhani-Obama chat in the corridors of the U.N. building would be taken by many Iran-watchers as improving the prospects for a diplomatic solution to the protracted stalemate over Tehran's nuclear program.