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Last updateWed, 21 Feb 2018 1pm

Rouhani says US lost 'golden opportunity’ for bilateral dialogue

USA


Al-Monitor - Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has declared that his US counterpart, Donald Trump, has ruined all potential opportunities for a dialogue between Tehran and Washington.

Speaking at a press conference on Feb. 6, Rouhani stated in response to a question about the recent protests across Iran, “You shouldn’t consider the demands of the people [as limited to] issues to do with the economy. Political, social and foreign policy issues were [also the subject of] protests. We should open our ears to listen to the people’s remarks, and [we should] see what the people want.”

Mentioning the US reaction to the protests, Rouhani added, “The United States turned the issue of the recent protests in Iran into a political, international and security issue. However, the first awful defeat of the US government in the UN Security Council happened in relation to this matter, [when] all of the present countries in the Security Council spoke of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and its advantages instead of [pursuing] the goals of the United States to portray the protests as a political and security [matter].”

He then took a swipe at the White House, saying sarcastically, “It was maybe the first time that we saw that the [US] president gave ‘kebab’ [lunch to Security Council member envoys] to gain the countries’ votes at the Security Council. We had seen previously in [Iran’s] presidential election that a number [of candidates] gave kebab [to people] to get their votes, but this was the first time that we saw such a thing [happening] in the White House.”

Asked about Iran’s request from Turkey to withdraw its forces from Syria, Rouhani said, “Our relationships with both Turkey and Russia are good, but our position regarding Turkish forces' withdrawal from Syria is a principled position, because the presence of the army of a country in another country must be done with the consent of the government and people of that country; otherwise, we don’t accept this and we want this [operation] to end, because it will lead to killing on both sides.”

Answering a question about Iran’s reaction if the United States withdraws from the JCPOA, Rouhani stated, “I’m very happy that Trump hasn’t been able to fulfill his [promises] and shouts in the [campaigning for the 2016 US] presidential elections to tear up the JCPOA after one year in office. The JCPOA has been so strong that it has resisted the US [pressures]. We don’t know what the United States will decide in the future. Even European friends who are close to Trump don’t know what Trump will do.”

He then emphasized, “Trump’s mistake is that he thinks the JCPOA is a commitment of the Democratic Party, while the JCPOA is the commitment of the US government, and if the US government breaches [the JCPOA] implementation, its own reputation will be harmed.”

Rouhani added, “As long as our interests are secured, we will remain in the JCPOA. The United States remaining [in the JCPOA] or its withdrawal doesn’t influence our decision.”

In response to a question about the possibility of Iran and the United States starting bilateral talks, Rouhani stated, “If the United States wanted to create an opportunity for [establishing] a relationship with Iran, [they could] use the atmosphere [created by the signing] of the JCPOA. If America had honored all of its commitments, a new situation could be created, but unfortunately, they destroyed this golden opportunity. … I have always emphasized the issue that the key to the US-Iran relationship is in the hands of Washington.”