The Rouhani-Obama phone chat, the first between presidents of the two deeply estranged countries since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, capped a week of overtures by Rouhani and his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to the West. The landslide election in June of Rouhani has raised hopes of a negotiated settlement to Iran’s long-running dispute with world powers over its nuclear programme – though it is Khamenei who will make the final decision on the contours of any deal. “We support the government’s diplomatic movement, including the trip to New York, because we trust the government and we are optimistic regarding it,” Khamenei said in a speech quoted by ISNA news agency. “But some of what happened in New York was not proper, because the U.S. government is not trustworthy, is self-important and illogical, and breaks promises,” he said. Rouhani also won a resounding endorsement for his conciliatory moves at the U.N. General Assembly from the Iranian parliament, a significant gesture because the hardline assembly is dominated by factions loyal to Khamenei. CRIPPLING SANCTIONS The president and his team are hoping to secure a removal of international sanctions on Iran’s banking, energy, and shipping sector that slashed vital oil exports and hobbled the economy. The sanctions were imposed over Iran’s failure to address suspicions that it is enriching uranium to develop a nuclear arms capability. Iran says it wants only civilian atomic energy. The next round of talks between Iran and six world powers on the nuclear stand-off, which has raised fears of a new Middle East war, is to be held in Geneva on October 15-16. A diplomat based in Tehran said Khamenei’s carefully calibrated comments looked like an effort to play down expectations from negotiations in the near future. “There have already been sceptical signs and in a way these comments are not that surprising,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The distance between Iran and the United States is very wide. It can’t just turn into smiles and friendliness.
Several journalists and a prominent Yemen expert have questioned the article’s premise, in which anonymous U.S. officials claim the leak of an intercept between al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and Yemen-based al Qaeda head Nasir al-Wuhayshi had prompted terrorists to change communications patterns. In early August, the U.S. government took the unprecedented step of closing 19 embassies abroad because of a terrorist threat, a move that set off a media frenzy and raised questions about the specificity of the plot. The Times reported on Aug. 2 that the U.S. had intercepted communications between senior al Qaeda operatives, a story which added to the public’s understanding of the threat. But the Times, like CNN, withheld the names of the al Qaeda leaders at the U.S. government’s request. However, McClatchy revealed the names on Aug. 4, and James Asher, the newspaper chains Washington bureau chief, defended the move.
Gen. Eric Schneiderman said the bank’s efforts to help homeowners were simply “not good enough.” Schneiderman announced Wednesday that his office has filed a complaint against the San Francisco-based financial giant over what he claims is its failure to comply with last year’s landmark $25-billion National Mortgage Settlement. Schneiderman said Wells Fargo sent a letter to a committee monitoring the mortgage settlement offering to voluntarily take steps, but the bank refused to acknowledge its shortcomings. Their communication with customers is terrible, Schneiderman told reporters Wednesday at his offices in Manhattan. Theyre not providing the right folks with the ability to close a deal. And, Schneiderman added, the bank continues to enter into servicing contracts with other companies, forcing homeowners to start all over again with a new servicer. At a news conference at his Manhattan offices, Schneiderman mocked a Wells Fargo letter to a homeowner. Brandishing a copy, he read excerpts riddled with unclear writing, typos and stray characters not from any recognizable alphabet. I appreciate their efforts at honoring the diversity of New York and the fact that they are looking out for the Martian-speaking population, Schneiderman said. The Wells Fargo lawsuit was announced along with a parallel agreement with Bank of America over similar claims. B of A agreed to designate high-level staff to work with counseling and legal-services agencies to speed up pending or delayed modification requests. The bank also agreed, for example, to improve its communications with borrowers over missing documents. Schneiderman left open the possibility of an agreement with Wells Fargo. There is nothing stopping them from stepping forward and negotiating something, the attorney general said.