Iranian President Hassan Rohani made his first appearance on the world stage on Tuesday, telling the UN General Assembly that his country was ready for better engagement with the West.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani told world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday that Iran “poses absolutely no threat to the world or the region… Let me say loud and clear that peace is within reach.”
Rohani also added that nuclear weapons “have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine.”
In his debut appearance on the world diplomatic stage since taking winning Iran's presidential election in June, he repeatedly underscored a desire for a thaw in relations with the US.
“Commensurate with the political will of the leadership in the United States and hoping that they will refrain from following the short-sighted interest of warmongering pressure groups, we can arrive at a framework to manage differences,” Rohani said to the UN General Assembly.
However, he also spoke firmly against the four rounds of sanctions that the United Nations has imposed on the Islamic Republic in the past six years, and against American hegemony.
“Unjust sanctions ... are intrinsically inhumane and against peace,” Rohani lamented. “It is not the states and the political elite that are targeted, but rather, it is the common people who are victimised by these sanctions.”
Rohani also adopted language similar to that of his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and criticised the US as a superpower that seeks to impose its will abroad and discriminates against smaller and poorer countries.
“Propagandistic and unfounded faith-phobic, Islamo-phobic, Shia-phobic, and Iran-phobic discourses do indeed represent serious threats against world peace and human security,” he said.
While Iran agreed to restart stalled nuclear negotiations with the so-called six world powers on Thursday on the sidelines of the General Assembly, a much awaited and highly-symbolic handshake between Rohani and President Barack Obama was not to be.
Rohani told US news channel CNN later that he did not meet Obama at the UN because the two sides “didn’t have sufficient time to really coordinate the meeting.” Observers said that the missed handshake reflected the intense pressure both leaders feel at home to proceed cautiously.
Obama, who spoke hours earlier at the General Assembly, repeated that he favoured finding a peaceful solution to nuclear issue, but would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“[Rohani’s] conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable,” he told the gathered heads of state.
Syria, a close ally of Iran, remained one of the other difficult, sticking points between the two countries.
Rohani said the West and Middle East countries were making a big mistake in providing support to the opposition fighting a bitter and bloody civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Israel’s delegation walked out of Rohani’s speech in protest after the Iranian leader condemned the occupation of Palestinian territories, saying: “Apartheid as a concept can hardly describe the crimes and the institutionalised aggression against the innocent Palestinian people,” even though he avoided naming Israel directly.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-09-25