‘Iran wants to rebuild relations with US, EU’ – Rouhani

‘Iran wants to rebuild relations with US, EU’ – Rouhani
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has for the first time openly acknowledged the Islamic Republic’s plans to mend relations with the US and other Western powers.

“We want to rebuild and improve our relations to European and North American countries on a basis of mutual respect,” Rouhani wrote in an editorial published by Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

“We are striving to avoid new burdens on relations between Iran and the United States and also to remove the tensions that we have inherited,” he added.

Rouhani has declared a course of engagement with the West and finding compromise on the controversial Iranian nuclear program after claiming a confident win the presidential election this July.

This September he has held a historic telephone conversation with his US counterpart, Barack Obama, which saw the presidents of the two nations speaking to each other for the first time in more than three decades.

But Iranian officials later stressed that the call had nothing to do with the revival of diplomatic relations with Washington, which were severed after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, and was only dedicated to nuclear talks.

Rouhani emphasized that Iran can’t forget about what happened between Tehran and Washington in the past, but urged both sides to “concentrate on the present and orientate towards the future.”

In his article, the Iranian president touched upon the nuclear issue, saying that the Western concerns about Tehran developing an atomic bomb have been groundless.

“We have never even considered the option of acquiring nuclear weapons,”
he wrote. “We'll never give up our right to profit from nuclear energy. But we are working towards removing all doubts and answer all reasonable questions about our program.”

Iran has made significant progress in nuclear talks with P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany) under Rouhani.

Under the November 24 accord, Tehran agreed to stop uranium enrichment to a fissile concentration of 20 per cent in exchange for limited easing of sanctions, including trade in petrochemicals and gold.

The new round of negotiations between the sides has been rescheduled until after the Christmas holidays, Reuters reports.

On Sunday, Rouhani met with Italian Foreign Minister, Emma Bonino, in Tehran, showing his commitment to strengthen European ties.

“Italy has played the role of an important partner of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and has so far acted as the gateway to Iran’s interaction with Europe,” the Iranian president is cited as saying by Tasnim news agency.

Rouhani has urged the two countries to “pursue the bilateral relations based on durable and long term goals for joint cooperation at all levels.”