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September 20th, 2013
06:52 PM ET

An olive branch from Iran?

Who says newspapers are dead? Apparently not the presidents of countries that still block internet content from their citizens.

First Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an "open letter" to the American people in The New York Times, where he told Americans to get over themselves, because they're not that exceptional.

Now, there is an op-ed in The Washington Post from new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but his tone is much more conciliatory.

"We must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain," Rouhani writes. "As part of this, I announce my government's readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition."

All this comes at the same time Rouhani and President Barack Obama have been corresponding with one another, fueling speculation that Rouhani and Obama will meet next week in New York when the U.N. General Assembly gathers. The White House said no meeting is currently planned, but will there be a handshake?

The Iranian government, "they think they've got a new era. They clearly have a new president. None of the facts have changed," said David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times.

"At this point, the Iranians have built more centrifuges in the past couple years than they built at any time previously," said Sanger.

The hard question now, "is can you get what the Iranians want, which is a recognition of their right to enrich, and at the same time what the Americans want, which is a reduction in the size of the production capability? So that Iran couldn't run for a bomb without giving such long lead notice to U.S. Intelligence," said Sanger.

But despite painful sanctions, Iran is likely not willing to give on their nuclear weapon capability, said Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a former senior adviser at the State Department.

"We are far from that sort of deal right now," said Nasr.

"I think the best thing that can happen is that a diplomatic track would actually be established. But that ending in the kind of result we want is not going to be done in the near future," said Nasr.

Rouhani also wrote, "We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart."

The U.S. has not had official diplomatic relations with Iran as a country since 1980, when 52 Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. embassy.

"There's definitely unique and unprecedented outreach. We haven't seen something like this since 1979," said CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

"Taken together, it's at least an opening in the White House, and U.S. officials I have spoken to are at least listening, but they repeat what is the consistent administration position on this, which is actions speak louder than words," said Sciutto.

For more of this discussion, watch the video above.

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