Obama Sees Chance of Broader Engagement

Obama Sees Chance of Broader EngagementObama Sees Chance of Broader Engagement

US President Barack Obama says a constructive relationship with Iran could be a byproduct of the recent nuclear deal, but it will not happen immediately.

Obama told CNN in an interview airing Sunday Iran’s “nuclear problem” needs to be dealt with first, the AP reported.

He said the agreement reached last month between Iran and the six major powers (the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) to remove economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for temporary restrictions on its nuclear program achieves that goal “better than any alternative.”

US Republican lawmakers largely disagree with the president’s assessment that the deal is the best possible settlement, as do some of Obama’s fellow Democrats.

Obama says resolving the Iranian nuclear issue makes it possible to open broader talks with Tehran on other issues. He named Syria as an example.

“Is there the possibility that having begun conversations around this narrow issue that you start getting some broader discussions about Syria, for example, and the ability of all the parties involved to try to arrive at a political transition that keeps the country intact and does not further fuel the growth of ISIL and other terrorist organizations. I think that’s possible,” Obama said, referring to the so-called Islamic State militant group by one of its acronyms. “But I don’t think it happens immediately.”

Obama was interviewed by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria last Thursday, hours before Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s leading Jewish Democrat, announced he would oppose the agreement. Congress is expected to vote in September on a measure disapproving the deal, which Obama has promised a swift veto. Lawmakers would then have to find enough votes to override the president.

Obama did not answer directly when asked whether he would have to consider the military option to address Iran’s nuclear dispute if the deal falls through.

“I have a general policy on big issues like this not to anticipate failure,” Obama said. “And I’m not going to anticipate failure now because I think we have the better argument.”