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Gallup: Over 80 Percent Of Americans View Iran As Enemy, Unfriendly

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File photo of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – A Gallup Poll that once again endeavored to gauge the sentiments of the American populace toward Iran showed that the vast majority of people in the United States still view the nation as an enemy.

A release posted on the poll to Gallup’s website indicated that 83 percent of Americans see Iran as unfriendly when asked about their opinions on Sept. 15 and Sept. 16 of this year. Only 10 percent of those asked said they view Iran as an ally of the United States, while an estimated 8 percent had no feelings in one direction or the other.

“Americans’ negative views of Iran in the … poll are also consistent with Gallup’s historical favorability trends since the 1980s,” the release additionally noted. “In March 1989, 89 percent of Americans viewed Iran unfavorably, and in February 2013 that total unfavorable rating was 87 percent.”

This latest report regarding American sentiments toward the Middle Eastern nation was released not long after President Barack Obama welcomed the new Iranian government’s pursuit of a “more moderate course,” saying it should offer the basis for a breakthrough on Iran’s nuclear impasse with the United Nations and the U.S.

On Tuesday, he additionally signaled a willingness to directly engage Iran’s leaders, tasking Secretary of State John Kerry with pursuing that diplomacy with Tehran.

“The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested,” Obama said during an address to the U.N. General Assembly.

Obama said recent statements by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, a moderate cleric elected in June, should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

Researchers at Gallup added, “Although large majorities of all major U.S. partisan groups are mainly negative about Iran’s relationship with the U.S., Republicans (60 percent) are much more likely than Democrats (37 percent) and independents (42 percent) to consider Iran an enemy, meaning Republicans may be the most alarmed by Obama’s diplomatic initiative.”

The West has long suspected that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon. Tehran has consistently denied the charge.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that the world “should not be fooled” by signs of moderation from Tehran. He said Iran’s new outreach to the West is merely a ploy to ease international sanctions while it secretly builds a nuclear weapon.

“Iran thinks soothing words and token actions will enable it to continue on its path to the bomb,” Netanyahu said. Still, he added that he welcomes Obama’s efforts to engage Rouhani.

Obama, reflecting the skepticism of many in the U.S. and around the world, said Rouhani’s “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

Obama said he was asking Kerry to pursue diplomatic progress with Iran, in coordination with five other world powers. Kerry will join representatives from those nations Thursday in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

It’s unclear whether Kerry and Zarif will meet one-on-one on the sidelines of that meeting. And Obama also offered no hints of whether he will meet Tuesday with Rouhani. Even a brief handshake would be significant, marking the first such encounter between U.S. and Iranian leaders in 36 years.

A reported 1,010 American adults were randomly selected to participate in the poll, according to Gallup.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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