US And Iran Open Talks As UN Reaches Deal On Syria12:04
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. (Jason DeCrow/AP)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. (Jason DeCrow/AP)

It was the highest level contact between the U.S. and Iran in six years. It ended with Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif clasping hands and agreeing to "jump-start" talks over Iran's disputed nuclear program.

The meeting followed a week of appearances in New York by Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, in which he tried to pitch a more moderate Iran to the world.

International security expert Jim Walsh was one of the people who attended a dinner with Rouhani this week. He joins Here & Now to talk about Rouhani and the planned nuclear talks.

Meantime, the inspectors responsible for tracking down Syria's chemical arms stockpile and verifying its destruction plan to start work in Syria by Tuesday.

The five permanent members of the deeply divided U.N. Security Council reached agreement yesterday on a resolution to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

"It’s a big deal," Walsh tells Here & Now. "In the past 24 hours the U.S. has had more diplomatic progress on Syria and on Iran than in the past 24 years."

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.

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This segment aired on September 27, 2013.

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