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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  September 25, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT

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and welcome to al jazeera, i'm tony harris here aring tonight's top stories. the voting but unanimous, the senate is now considering how to avoid partial government shutdown. it all happened after ted cruz spoke on the senate floor for over 21 hours. the fbi said aaron alexis didn't target anyone specifically. his motive remains mystery. world lead ers are talk for the second straight day of the un general assembly. secretary of state john kerry met with the security council to talk about the situation in syria, this happened after
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weapons inspectored arrived in syria this morning. thousands are hurt after a earthquake hit in pakistan. and nasa sending its next crew to the international space station. american astronaut michael hopkins of nasa is on that rocket, joined by two russian astronauts. those are the headlines. "inside story" is up next. let's leave you with these pictures. ♪ from the floor of the united stated nations a thoughing frozen us-iranian
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relations. a challenges of this new diplomatic opening. ♪ hello and welcome, i'm thomas straighten. the two presidents did not meet face-to-face in new york, but in separate speeches the two leaders talked optimistically and cautiously about the prospects for further dialogue. on thursday secretary of state john kerry is scheduled to hold talks with his iranian counterpart. it will be the highest-level meeting between the two countries since 1979. among the many issues the two will have to work through, iran's nuclear program, and syria's raging war. president obama said the difficult history between the united states and iran cannot be overcome overnight, because the
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suspicion runs too deep. >> i do believe if we can resolve the issue of iran's nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a longong d towards a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect. >> translator: the islamic republican of iran insisting on its rights and imperative international respect in this exercise is prepared to engage immediately in talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual respect. >> we respect the right of iran to access peaceful nuclear energy. instead we insist that the iranian government meet its responsibilities under the treaty and un security council
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resolutions. meanwhile the supreme leader has issued a fatwah against nuclear weapons. >> translator: nuclear weapon and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in iran's security and defense doctrine and contradict off ethical convictions. >> these statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement. we should be able to aa resolution that respects the rights of the iranian people while giving the world confidence that the iranian government is peaceful. but conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. after all, it's the iranian
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government's choices that have lead to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place. >> translator: these sanctions are violent, pure and simple, whether called smart or otherwise, unilateral or lateral, they violate human rights, the right to peace, development, access to health and education, and above all the right to life. sanctions beyond any and all rhetoric cause belligerence, warmongering and human suffering. ♪ for more on the prospects for diplomacy between the u.s. and iran we're joined from terran from an iranian journalist and commentator. here in the studio we have a the former u.s. deputy assistant
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secretary of state for iran. and from san francisco we're joined by the executive director of the berkeley program in entrepreneurship and development in the middle east. gentmen good to have you with us. >> thank you. >> i want to start with the view from terran. what is the economic situation in iran right now? food prizes have risen 50% in just the last year alone. >> well, basically sanctions have affected the economic performance of this country, there is no doubt about it, but the da-- sanctions are also effecting other economies like france and britain. so this is a 2-way street. it is not in the best interests of any country. those imposing the sanctions and those subject to sanctions, so yes, iranians are not happy with the situation in this country, but i think this is also vice versa. >> ali, resuscitating iran's
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dying economy is going to be a daunting challenge here. oil revenue has fallen 58%. one in four people are without a job, and the currency has lost more than half of its value. how optimistic are you that change is coming? >> one thing for sure, sanctions alone and the lifting of sanctions will not solve the problem. iran is dependent on oil revenue, dependant on the state. it is also mismanaged a lot of loyalty appointments take place in iran, and a number of policies from predecessor governments have failed to bring successful economic products to the market, and ultimately at the end of the day the sanctions contribute to all of that, but without a real sort of uprooting of the nepotism and a number of corrupt elements of the economy, there's very little hope that
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there will be lasting economic, sort of relief for the iranance. >> ambassador the company is at a rare moment where national solidarity is a rare level. how dire is the need to remove international sanctions? >> that's a good question. iran with its resources, with its well educated and creative population, should be a paradise. it isn't. there's -- they are suffering. the thing that no one we -- no one seems to know is how much of that is because of the sanctions, and how much of it is because of long-term economic mismanagement. that is not a new problem in iran. it's been around for -- for a long time. >> what need s to happen moving forward to improve the economy of iran? >> well, i -- i can't speak for the iran -- for the iranian decision makers, but clearly
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they need to be in the international market. they need to strengthen their strongest -- their strongest economic sector, which is the petroleum sector and the gas sector. they need obviously education, infrastructure, all of these things, but the point is, they should be able to do it with the population that they have, with the resources that -- with the resources that they have, they -- they should be able to manage this economy and turn their country into something much more prosperous and effective than it is today. >> how do you begin that process? what is the greatest obstacle right now facing iranians? >> well as your distinguished guest just mentioned, yes, we have problems. we have structural problems. wrong practices on the part of the government and the private sector, and i don't think this is just about sanctions or just
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about infrastructuresor policies. i think people have to also cooperate. many traders here try to evade tax. they smuggle goods and services into this country to try to make as much money as possible. and they manipulate the market. we have seen a lot of fluctuations in the market. yesterday we had a huge drop in the value of the u.s. dollar. now today we have a huge rise in the value of dollars. you can see that many people are trying to man ip tait the economic and political situation in iran. so i think it's are very long -- long process and many people have to cooperate with each other, but -- but -- but we also have to include the fact that we are now in the middle of a global economic downturn. if the united states doesn't mix its economy, if the situation
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doesn't improve in europe, i don't see any future for the iranian economy in the short period of time. we have to wait to see them perform well before we can do anything here. >> how does the iranian economy effect relations with the u.s.? >> well, there are a numbers of points of contention between iran and the u.s., political and social obviously exists as the 2009 and most recent elections demonstrated. but the reason why iran is coming to the table now is the economy. it is getting worse. and i think that is really the be all and end all for why iran has come to the negotiating table, because if you consider politically, iran doesn't necessarily have great relations with his neighbors, it is much more comfortable than it would have been five or even ten years
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ago. your average iranian has difficulty making ends meet because of the collapse of the currency. so it's really second to none as far as what is bringing iran to the negotiating table. >> ambassador your thoughts? how does the economy play with u.s. relations? >> it's very interesting -- it's very interesting. i -- obviously, you have what -- what you have in iran is a political elite that has been in power since 1979. typically what happens with this elite and it has happened in iran is this elite gets more and more out of touch with the real advertise ofç]
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♪ we are encouraged that president rouhani received from the iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course. the roadblocks may prove to be
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too great, but i firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested. >> translator: notwithstanding all challenges, i am deeply optimistic about the future. i have no doubt that the future will be bright with the entire world solid illy rejecting violence and extremism. >> in they clip we just heard, let's talk about the politics in play in both countries. i want to start with you ambassador and go back to the words of president rouhani talking about new possibilities and not building a nuclear bomb. is this a break through? >> it's a change. >> a change. >> it's a change from what we have heard in the last 34 years, even the use of the words prudence and moderation, those
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are words you haven't heard -- from an iranian president -- [ technical difficulties ] -- for a long time, the worst thing you could call someone in the iranian -- the bare pit of iranian politics was a moderate. that was -- that was condemned. that is new. there are some new things -- there are some new things in his speech. when he said, i listened to what president obama said, that sounds small, but it's new. >> words you haven't heard in the past. >> exactly. >> ali is this a true break through? >> i think rights break through if for no other reason there were no surprises. it left the door open and an amicable sort of approach by both presidents. it was sort of non-committal by both presidents, but that's totally natural, so i do agree with the ambassador that it's
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very much, if you take it in stark contrast by previous speeches, this really left the door open for the highest level of negotiation that will be taking place between the two countries, and in that sense i think it was both a success and break through, yes. >> what has the reaction been out of iran on both president rouhani's words and president obama's words? >> well, i really want to start on a positive note, and say that things are going to change for good -- for better, but i don't think that is going to happen. as i just mentioned today the value of u.s. dollar has gone up because of what mr. rouhani saad yesterday. he said that he is not going to retreat from the nuclear right. and what he said that he doesn't have the power to -- to dismantle iran's nuclear program.
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even the leadership doesn't have that kind of power and authority. any politician who dares to do that will be owed here. he was sweating when he was talking, this means he was under immense internal pressure. many groups here don't like to have relations with the united states and they have many reasons for that. they don't trust the united states. and the united states doesn't trust the iranian government. the wall of trust is very high, and it's not going to collapse overnight. >> i want to get to president obama's words. what has the reaction been out of tehran. >> iranians also welcome dialogue. they chose a moderate president because they are sick and tired of the dispute over the united states over iran's nuclear program. they have nothing to hide, they just want respect and mutual
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understanding between these two countries. they want some kind of trust. if that exists iran is more than willing to open up its nuclear program for bigger and broader, international inspection. iran has nothing to hide. the only thing that iran doesn't like is all options are on the table including military. and iranians were very happy yesterday when mr. obama did not repeat this rhetoric of all options are on the table, and that's a good sign. we are hopeful -- iranians welcome relations with the united states, but i don't think this is going to happen overnight. as mr. obama himself mentioned yesterday. >> ambassador, what are the internal challenges president obama faces? >> internal challenges? well, what we're seeing is on both sides is nothing more than
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the practice of diplomacy. the problem is that neither -- both in tehran and in washington people have forgotten how to do it, apparently. we have not practiced diplomacy with each other for 34 years. so we have to pull out the old books, dust them off and figure out how to do it. we know how to call each other names, insult each other, threaten each other. now we have to do -- now we have to do something new. we have to listen to each other, have patience -- i agree with my colleague that there are going to be setbacks, there are going to be difficulties. we have been in a deep freeze for 34 years. that doesn't thaw out overnight with one speech, one handshake, with one meeting, and so patience, listening, forbearance, all of the tools of diplomacy that i'm afraid have
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grown rusty over these last three decades. >> i want to talk about where israel and saudi arabia falls into the mix. when we come back, more geographic influences in play in the broader middle east. we'll be right back. that's all i have an real money. victoria azarenko on august 20th,
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al jazeera america introduced a new voice in journalism. >> good evening everyone, welcome to al jazeera. >> usa today says: >> ...writes the columbia journalism review. and the daily beast says: >> quality journalists once again on the air is a beautiful thing to behold. >> al jazeera america, there's more to it.
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welcome back to "inside story." just one look at a map and it becomes abundantly clear how important iran is as a power. and not too far away is syria, where a proxy war has left more than a hundred thousand dead. where do we go from here with iran and syria? the u.s. has to come to the table and meet with iran? >> in -- in a reasonable world -- if we lived in a reasonable world, we and the iranians would be talking about syria together. it's clear, iran has to be part of -- of the solution there, and the interesting thing is that there are common interests involved. one is both -- both we and the iranians do not want to see a
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sunni extremist groups dominating syria, and al-qaeda influence connected groups coming to power in damascus. both also share a revulsion against the use of chemical weapons. the iranians are in an particularly important place to denounce the use of chemical weapons, since they themselves were the victims of that during the iran/iraq war, and at that time when saadam used the chemical weapons against them, the international community was silent. there are -- within israel as there are in other places, there is -- there are extreme right groups. there are what we call -- what i might call the iran haters and the chest thumpers, but if i
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could repeat what one newspaper today. remember, apac is not israel. there is a vigorous debate in israel over just these cases. and there is a great division of opinion. the interesting thing that has happened is now the previous ruler is gone. that was the gift who kept on giving, because he allowed this fear mongering to go on. now he's gone and the israelis -- or at least the israeli right has lost what many iranians called their best agent. >> i want to get your take, where do we move from here when it comes to dealing with syria and iran and also the influence from israel? >> well, iran as the new government has mentioned on several occasions, they don't have any war with israel. they don't seek any confrontation with israel, but unfortunately this conduct,
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paranoia, and one of mistrust also exists between iran and israel. they think they are somehow conspiring each other to dismantle each other, to vie porize each other, but that's not going to happen at all. mr. rouhani yesterday made it clear that iran doesn't pose any threat to any regional country, including israel. but with regard to syria, iran has a lot of interests in that country. we have hundreds of thousands of iranians married to syrians, and many syrian nationals in iranian cities and towns, so you cannot separate iran from syria. we are going to live together just like we have been living with iraq and lebanon. including afghanistan. they need to include iran in any future talks. but -- but as i said i'm trying to be positive, just for the
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moment. today the opposition group, the so-called free syrian army said if iran attends any peace talks with regard to syria, they are going to boycott that kind of meeting, so it is very complicated. >> sure. >> if diplomacy does prevail what was this mean for the middle east. >> at the end of the day if you consider syria was the one country that supported iran in the iran-iraq war. and what is happening in syria, but iran has come out a bit of a winner. so speaking about red lines, it's interesting to note that netenyahu used the same language last year in the general assembly to refer to iran's nuclear program and the international community failed to act on assad's violation of
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those red lines. basically what that means for diplomacy is at the moment both sides tend to be in a more or less set position where iran is much more stable and confident about its position. the united states needs a bit of luck in the diplomatic arena, and they may be able to help each other in a lot of ways. and what that would mean could be a scaling back of places in lebanon, syria, iraq, and afghanistan. >> we're out of time. but this is certainly a conversation that will continue. gentlemen thank you. that's it for us in washington, d.c. thanks for watching. ♪
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