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SHEERAN: Well, Mr. President, we thank you very much for those remarks. And I know on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society, we're very pleased that you decided to partake in the only public session during your time here in a meeting with the public, and we think it's very important. And we're also very pleased that you've agreed to take questions not only from this very distinguished group here, but also from others who are with us via Facebook and Twitter, and we're getting many questions. I think I have over 40
questions for you.
But I just want to start, because you really ended...
ROUHANI: Forty or fourteen?
And more will come in, I'm sure. You're nearing the end of your first trip as president here to the United States, and you talked about ushering in a new era of relations, and you just spoke again about opening a window of opportunity.
President Obama, in his speech at the United Nations, mentioned Iran 26 times. Was there something you heard in that speech that made you feel that there is a window that has opened? And when you go back home, what will you report back to the supreme leader and others in Iran about what you have seen here and learned here about this new era?
ROUHANI (through translator): I, too, feel that a new era has been created around the world, as it has inside Iran, a new atmosphere, I would say. In fact, the exciting elections that took place and the vote of the people in Iran for moderation and wisdom and hope and prudence has led to a new -- the creation of a new atmosphere for engagement and interaction with the entire world.
In the series of speeches that I have delivered at the U.N. General Assembly, and on the sideline meetings that I held with a number of world leaders, as well as a number of European leaders, I have arrived at the conclusion that the atmosphere is different completely from the past. I felt that the will demonstrated by Iran as a result of its recent elections to look more towards the future, rather than in the past, is a vision that is also shared among Western leaders.
What I can say to the people of Iran and their representatives and the authorities in the country, as well as the supreme leader, is that today the world atmosphere, as I see it, is much better than the past. Even in America, it's much better than the past. And the sense of being prepared to watch us take serious steps forward, not only to settle what has happened in the past, but more importantly to move forward to realize the common interest that await us from materialization (ph), I think if I keep on talking with so lengthy -- at such length, we'll have to have breakfast by the time I end up answering all 40 questions.
The OPCW Executive Council today adopted a historic decision on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.
In a special session, the 41-member body agreed on an accelerated programme for achieving the complete elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014. The decision requires inspections in Syria to commence from 1 October 2013.
The decision also calls for ambitious milestones for destruction which will be set by the Council by 15 November.
The Executive Council decision was informed by the Framework Agreement reached by the Russian Federation and the United States of America in Geneva on 14 September. It also facilitates the request by Syria that the Convention be applied ahead of its formal entry into force for Syria on 14 October.
The OPCW Director-General warmly welcomed the decision by the Council. He assured States Parties of the Technical Secretariat’s readiness to commence its work in Syria immediately.
“This decision sends an unmistakable message that the international community is coming together to work for peace in Syria, beginning with the elimination of chemical weapons in that country.”
“I assure the Council that I and my colleagues are ready to take up this historic responsibility. A few days ago, I stated that we approach this mission with a sense of destiny. What this means is that we will not allow the significant challenges to obscure the vision of peace and security that is embedded in this noble undertaking.”
“We have known all along that an OPCW mission of this extraordinary character will require the support of the United Nations. I look forward to working closely with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon.”
The 41-member executive council of the OPCW passed the agreement in meetings that ran past midnight. "It's done and dusted," spokesman Michael Luhan to Reuters. "It passed by consensus."
An OPCW official told Reuters an advance team would head for Syria on Monday.