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Middle east

Iran pledges new era of global 'engagement' at Davos

© afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-23

Iran is committed to adhering to the terms of an international deal on limiting its nuclear programme and pursuing more open relations with regional powers, President Hassan Rohani said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Iran is “fully prepared and ready to engage with all neighboring countries” on issues including joint business ventures, environmental policy, Palestinian rights and the crisis in Syria, Rohani said.

He reiterated that Iran has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons but has the right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He said Tehran would continue to abide by the terms of an interim deal concluded with world powers that would limit Iran’s nuclear programme over the next six months in exchange for some relief from a crippling sanctions regime and the unfreezing of about $4.2 billion in overseas assets.

“We intend to reopen trade, industrial and economic relations, with all of our neighbours” including Turkey, Iraq, Russia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Rohani said in his speech.

The Iranian president sounded an optimistic note as he outlined his vision of the future.

“I see the status of Iran pursuing policies of moderation, prudence and hope in the future global economy,” Rohani said. “Iran’s economy has the potential to be among the world’s top 10 in the next three decades.”

The agreement also paves the way for new business deals, which Rohani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will discuss at the forum, which brings some 2,500 political leaders, corporate heavyweights and other public figures to the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Rohani also said that he hopes Iran’s economic ties with Europe would soon be normalised and suggested that negotiations with the United States could soon usher in an era of improved bilateral relations.*

Israel sceptical

Israeli leaders remained sceptical of the Iranian president’s declarations, however. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni are also attending the weeklong gathering in Davos.

Peres told reporters at a press briefing that it is now up to Iran to convince the world that his country is serious about not pursuing nuclear weapons.

“We are ready to make peace with the Iranian people; they have never been, historically, our enemies,” Peres said. “We don’t look for any wars, we don’t look for any confrontation.”

Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of US-led efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear programme, saying that agreements don’t go far enough to limit a country that supports the militant group Hezbollah.

"They say they oppose nuclear weapons,'' Netanyahu said. "Why do they insist on maintaining the ballistic missiles and the plutonium, and the advanced centrifuges that are only used for the production of nuclear weapons?"

"I wish it was real. It isn't real,'' he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2014-01-23

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