By Anugrah Kumar
In the first communication between the leaders of the United States and Iran since 1979, President Barack Obama on Friday (Sept. 26) spoke to President Hassan Rouhani by phone and called for the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith and has been tortured.
Obama, the first American leader to speak with an Iranian president since the Islamic revolution, noted the nation’s concern about three American citizens who have been held within Iran in his 15-minute conversation with the Iranian president.
The three include the missing U.S. citizen Robert Levinson, Pastor Saeed Abedini, and alleged CIA spy Amir Hekmati, according to Fox News. Obama “noted our interest in seeing those Americans reunited with their families,” a senior Obama Administration official was quoted as saying.
Rouhani, who spent the last few days at the U.N. General Assembly, was on his way to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport when Obama called him at about 2:30 p.m. on Friday. The conversation was focused mostly on the nuclear issue.
This is the first time that Obama has spoken out about the imprisonment of Saeed. Pastor’s wife, Naghmeh, said it was “the most encouraging news I have heard since Saeed was imprisoned one year ago.”