Nightly News   |  September 26, 2013

Rouhani seeks to separate himself from predecessor

Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has been trying to show he’s not his fiery predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During Rouhani’s trip to New York he condemned the Holocaust and tweeted about Kerry’s meeting with Iran’s foreign minister – but he did not go so far as to shake hands with President Obama. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> there is word secretary of state john kerry has indeed met with his iranian counterpart. the highest level talks between the u.s. and iran in many years. the meeting is being described as substantive, but they always say that about such things. it comes after a week of overtures by the new iranian president . apparently designed to ease a generation's worth of animosity between the two nations. our report tonight from our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: he smiles, he tweets. iran 's new president cutting a wide path through new york, trying to show he's not mahmoud ahmadinejad , his fiery predecessor.

>> translator: i ran on the platform of moderation and won the election by a large margin.

>> reporter: even with his supposed mandate from the supreme leader , hassan rowhani has to worry about provoking hard liners back home. so no handshake with president obama . hours after rowhani condemned the holocaust on cnn and in a talk with us, iran 's government news agency claimed he hadn't said it, even though he had. as rowhani made it clear to charlie rose on pbs

>> translator: why would i want to deny it? i want to add to this debate. not only do i deny the criminal acts of the nazis, we condemn it.

>> reporter: while rowhani claims iran has disclose ed the entire nuclear program .

>> translator: we never -- the option of acquiring nuclear weapons .

>> reporter: france's prime minister said it is not true.

>> you are pregnant or not. you can't be half pregnant. if they accept not to have the nuclear bomb it will be not simple but reasonably easy to know that. they have to be completely transparent and they have to renounce to the perspective of having the bomb.

>> reporter: on that the real work began at this meeting between john kerry and iran 's foreign minister. rowhani tweeted first for formal direct session between the countries' top diplomats since 1979 . kerry did meet separately with iran 's foreign minister. also tonight the u.s. says they have achieved an unprecedented breakthrough on syria's chemical weapons . the first agreement between the u.s. and russia on a u.n. resolution to destroy syria's chemical arsenal, ratifying what they agreed to in je me the eva.

>> andrea mitchell covering it here in new york with us