On Friday, mainstream and social media was stormed with the news of a phone call between US President Barrack Obama and Iran President Hassan Rouhani. For the first time after the Tehran hostage crisis in 1979, the leaders of the two ‘rival’ countries have engaged in a one-on-one conversation, taking away the focus from the “handshake that didn’t happen”. The 15-minute conversation ended with President Rouhani thanking his host for the “hospitality” and “have a good day, Mr President”. To which, President Obama replied with “Thank you, Khodahafez”.  Diplomacy can really do wonders, it is true.

The phone-call was in line with the general positive vibe which has prevailed at the UNGA session; at least as far as the US-Iran relationship is concerned. President Rouhani’s speech was an interesting one to witness. It was evident that hard-liner Ahmedinijad’s successor was walking a thin rope. One step in the wrong direction and everything could go wrong. The objective was clear. To stand firm on issues as a matter of principle and for the viewers at home, but reveal willingness and flexibility in order to resolve matters through comprehensive dialogue. Assurances offered by Mr Rouhani on Iran’s highly controversial nuclear program appear to be yielding minute, but significant results.

The meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, held on Thursday, has been described as positive. In an unprecedented move, foreign ministers from Iran, US, European Union, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China are due to meet sometime soon in order to devise a framework to break the detrimental deadlock. The fact that President Obama has returned the gesture and welcomed Iran’s new ‘friendly’ approach is very encouraging as well. Agreeing with his counterpart, Mr Obama has insisted that though the challenges faced by the two nations are complex, commitment and political will can lead to lasting solutions.

However, to say that this will be the end of world’s problems would be premature. When it comes to issues like Syria and Iran’s nuclear program, the stakes are extremely high. There are countless stakeholders, and within them are groups with vested interests. It must be understood that the word peace doesn’t carry the same appeal to everyone involved; to some war is profit and peace is bad for business. There will be efforts, from hard-liners in Iran and US alike, to subvert a consistent diplomatic discourse. Economic interests will act as hurdles. To pass them, compromises will have to be reached. There is a need for a realisation that the only way to protect national interests is not through aggression and coercion. For now, both Presidents have agreed that mutual respect and co-operation is the way forward.