Rowhani: U.S. enmity eased but distrust remains

Rowhani told CBS’ 60 Minutes that despite the deal, ‘disagreements and the lack of trust, will not go away soon’

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Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said in an interview with a U.S. television network that aired on Sunday that Tehran and Washington “have taken the first steps” toward decreasing their enmity due to a landmark nuclear accord.

But Rowhani told CBS’ “60 Minutes” program that despite the nuclear agreement, “the distance, the disagreements, the lack of trust, will not go away soon.”

The United States and Iran have been at odds since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Deep differences remain over Middle East conflicts, as well as what Washington sees as Iran’s support for terrorism and poor human rights record.

“What’s important is which direction we are heading?” Rowhani added. “Are we heading toward amplifying the enmity or decreasing this enmity? I believe we have taken the first steps toward decreasing this enmity.”

The nuclear accord reached in July between Iran and six world powers eases crippling sanctions on Iran in return for limits on its nuclear work.

The accord’s opponents in the U.S. Congress were unable to muster the votes to block it by last week’s legislative deadline for action.

Rowhani, who was interviewed in Tehran, expressed confidence that Iran’s parliament and Supreme National Security Council would likewise approve the accord.

“Institutions like the parliament and the Supreme National Security Council, are usually not far removed from public opinion and move in that direction,” he said.

The powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, some of whose members have publicly criticized the deal, “will respect this agreement” once Iran approves it, Rowhani predicted.

In the Syrian conflict, Iran has backed President Bashar al-Assad, and Rowhani said Assad should stay in power at least until ISIS extremists are defeated. “How can we fight the terrorists without the government staying?” he asked.

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