TEHRAN – In response to a question by the Tehran Times on the recent contacts between Iran and Saudi Arabia, President Hassan Rouhani said the differences between Tehran and Riyadh are not related to relations between the two countries.
However, Rouhani said Iran is keen and determined to develop friendly relations with all its neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, “despite existing differences.”
“From our side, we are interested in maintaining cordial ties with all our neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. The differences between Tehran and Riyadh are not in regard to their bilateral relations, rather it is regional issues, from North Africa to the Middle East, that divide the two [countries],” Rouhani told a press conference attended by domestic and foreign reporters.
Rouhani added, “Such differences exist now and might exist in the future, as well. The key to resolve the differences is negotiations not detachment. We have always expressed our readiness to negotiate with Saudi Arabia.
“The situation of the region has changed. The Zionist regime has been defeated, terrorists in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon have been crushed… now is the time for Iran and Saudi Arabia to negotiate. However, differences of opinion regarding regional issues may remain forever.
“For instance, we have close ties with Turkey despite being divided over the issue of Syria. That is the same about Saudi Arabia. In general, we are ready to cooperate with any state which is willing to fight terrorism.”
President Rouhani also touched on the United States’ so-called campaign against terrorism in the region, saying, “So far, we have not witnessed a serious determination in Americans in their fight against terrorism. One can study and see how the Taleban, the Al-Qaeda, and their offspring were born to existence.”
No plans or coordination with the U.S. in campaign against ISIL
Asked about the possible cooperation between Iran and the United States to thwart the threat posed by ISIL, Rouhani said, “This [the U.S. policies to fight terrorism] is not a real campaign. Thus, we have no plans and coordination with the U.S. in this regard.”
Iran optimistic about reaching comprehensive nuclear deal
Elsewhere in his remarks, President Rouhani said the Islamic Republic is committed to diplomacy in its ongoing talks with the 5+1 group over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program.
He said, “Tehran is optimistic to the future of the nuclear negotiations, despite recent U.S. imposed sanctions”, which were put in place on Friday to target a number of Iranian companies and individuals.
President Rouhani said the recent U.S. sanctions are against the Geneva Accord and “the U.S. move is not consistent with the spirit of agreements and the confidence-building”.
However, he said, the Islamic Republic will resist any sanctions.
“Adoption of such sanctions against the country was not a wise approach… However, I do not think such measures would undermine the foundations of the upcoming round of [nuclear] talks with the 5+1 group.
“We have always been honest during the talks. We would still continue our negotiations with the 5+1 group, hoping to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal,” he explained.
Doubts about U.S. goodwill
President Rouhani said the representatives of Iran and the 5+1 group seek to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy program because sanctions have not been effective and have been a loss-loss path.
He, however, expressed doubt about the U.S. goodwill in the current nuclear talks.
Rouhani says he won’t meet Obama in New York
Answering a question on his New York visit and a possible meeting with the U.S. President Barack Obama, Rouhani said he had no such plans.
President further added that his administration will defend the nation’s rights by intensive diplomatic campaign against the arbitrary sanctions.
President says inflation rate to drop to less than 20 percent
On the economic policy, President Rouhani said that government has managed to curb inflation in the past one year and abided by its promise to bring the spiraling inflation down to 25 percent.
He also predicted that that inflation rate will stand at 23.2 percent soon and will fall to less than 20 percent by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (which ends on March 20, 2015).
Rouhani added that the administration plans to ensure a one-digit inflation rate in the next Iranian calendar year (2016-2017).
Elaborating on the national gas output capacity, the president said that 100 billion cubic meters will be added to Iran’s gas production this year, and so will it be in the next year. He also spoke of plans to exploit the joint gas and oil fields with neighboring states.
On performance of the government in agriculture, the president said that the farming situation is better than the previous year. He said more than seven million tons of wheat has been purchased from the domestic farmers and another portion is to be bought soon.
“Thanks to the projects and measures taken by the Agriculture Ministry, the agriculture sector will undergo major upheaval in the next four to five years,” Rouhani explained.
President Rouhani said this year the administration will concentrate all its efforts to get out of recession and ensure a positive growth by the year end.
“The predictions are all on the same basis and God willing, this year, we will witness positive growth, leaving behind recession and entering the era of economic boom.”
Noting that unemployment is a serious problem, the president hoped the targets in that connection will be attained by the end of the year.
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