French President François Hollande became the first Western leader to meet newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rohani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, in what could signal a modest thawing in relations between the Islamic Republic and the West.
Heading into the closed-door meeting, Hollande said it expected “concrete gestures” by Iran to show it will give up a military nuclear programme, echoing cautious statements by US President Barack Obama.
A French presidential source said the 40-minute meeting had been polite and courteous and centred on Iran’s nuclear programme, the crisis in Syria and neighbouring Lebanon, where Tehran has considerable influence over the armed Shiite group Hezbollah.
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