TODAY   |  September 28, 2013

A new beginning for US - Iran relations?

President Barack Obama said he talked with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which was the first time in 30 years that the two countries’ leaders have have had a conversation. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> history was made on friday at the oval office . president obama taking a phone call from iran 's president rouhani. they spoke on for nearly 15 minutes . it was the first conversation between the two nations' leaders in more than 30 years. where do they go from this starting point? kristen welker is live at the white house with that story. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. forp experts say this could be a new beginning in the relationship between the united states and iran but they also say it will be important for both sides to keep the momentum going if they hope to get an agreement on iran's nuclear program . this potential breakthrough marked by a phone call that will go down in history. with the budget battle looming, a surprise foreign policy announcement from the president telling reporters he called iran 's president hasan rouhani on friday.

>> the two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over iran's nuclear program .

>> reporter: he says the president lasted 15 minutes and after rouhani turned down a handshake from the president at the u.n. this week. after conversations between secretary of state kerry and his iranian counterpart both sides came around. rouhani tweeted news of the call before mr. obama spoke to reporters.

>> a path to a meaningful agreement will be difficult, but i believe we have got a responsibility to pursue diplomacy.

>> reporter: mr. rouhani, who also tweeted a photo of himself smiling after the call, spent the week reaching out to the u.s. by taking on a more moderate tone this his predecessors and he also made assurances during a recent interview with ann curry .

>> translator: we have never pursued or sought nuclear weapons and we are are not going to do so.

>> reporter: it's more than 30 years since top level talks between the united states and iran dating back to president jimmy carter before iran 's resolution and the american hostage crisis which lasted more than a year. event that foster the decade long diplomatic free.

>> it's not very often you can see the hinge of history moving. you may have seen that this week. a step by step process that can fundamentally change one of the key strategic relationships in the middle east and in the world.

>> reporter: house majority leader eric cantor criticized president obama for not calling on the iranian leader to halt his support of extremist elements and the syrian government. meanwhile, u.s. officials say it is important for them to reassure key allies in the region, particularly israel. israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu is scheduled to visit the white