Iranian President Responds to Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia Criticism

by Garry Watts May 25, 2017, 1:41

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday stability could not be achieved in the Middle East without Tehran's help, responding to criticism of the Islamic Republic from US President Donald Trump who is visiting the region.

During an official visit in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, the United States president branded Iran as this influential and resourceful key for the militant groups from Middle East, which in reality, represents a not-so-subtle message for Tehran's government, especially because Rouhani recently won his second presidential term.

Iran's newly re-elected president has dismissed US President Donald Trump's calls for the region to isolate Tehran.

Iran had had dealings with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda for decades, Khedery said, adding: "Iran has also maintained ties with the Taliban, and has facilitated various terrorist activities in Afghanistan that have resulted in the killing and wounding of our soldiers and Afghan civilians".

Mr Trump has dubbed the nuclear agreement signed by Mr Obama as "one of the worst deals ever signed". "American officials should know that whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission", Rouhani said, repeating Iran's commonly expressed stance on the programme.

Iran's economy has slowly recovered since the lifting of sanctions a year ago but deals with Western investors are few and far between as foreign investors are cautious about trading with or investing in Iran, fearing penalties from remaining unilateral USA sanctions.

Rouhani made a point to stress that Trump's visit came amid Iran's presidential election, saying that such elections "are not in their (Saudis') dictionary".

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"We hope that one day Saudi Arabia to hold elections to put an end to the hereditary rulers making the country much more powerful", he said. He got a VIP reception in Saudi Arabia, Tehran's longtime foe, and from the predominantly Sunni countries at the summit in Riyadh that are traditional rivals of predominantly Shiite Iran.

But in a reminder of the global pressure that Iran faces, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said yesterday Teheran must stop supporting armed groups in Syria and Iraq that destabilise the Middle East if it wants good relations with the West.

During his current Mideast trip, Trump has been urging Arab leaders to join Israel in opposing Iran, citing its destabilizing activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Mr Rouhani also said last week's election showed Iranians wanted more democracy and interaction with the world, adding that this would lead to much-needed economic progress.

Foreign Minister "Jean-Yves Le Drian will work towards developing political dialogue that should be part of a constructive approach with regard to solving regional crises", said the French Foreign Ministry on Monday.

Commenting on Iran's missile program, Rouhani said the Islamic Republic's missile program aims at guaranteeing peace, not aggression.‎.


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