Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was ending his visit to the United States and inching through New York’s notorious traffic when the call came from President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
Fifteen minutes later, the two say goodbye in each other’s language, and a generation-long rift between the U.S. and Iran was that much closer to being bridged.
Iranians awoke Saturday to learn about the groundbreaking conversation, the first in more than three decades between leaders of the two countries.
They pledged to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which have isolated Iranians from the rest of the world and led to crippling economic penalties.
Upon his arrival in Tehran on Saturday, Rouhani was met by both cheering supporters and opposition hardliners who tried to block his motorcade.
Several dozen protesters shouted “Death to America” and at least one reportedly hurled a shoe, a gesture of contempt. Supporters greeted Rouhani with cheers and placards praising his peace efforts.
The focus now turns to negotiations among foreign ministers and other officials from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. The group wants Iran to present a more detailed proposal before or at the next round of negotiations, scheduled in Geneva on Oct. 15-16, according to an Obama administration official.