Iran’s Rowhani: openness doesn’t mean giving up rights

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Iranian President Hassan Rowhani signaled on Friday his pledge to follow an approach of openness with the West does not mean giving up Iran’s nuclear rights.

“A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives,” President Rowhani wrote in a column in The Washington Post.

“In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss,” Rowhani added.

He criticized unilateralism, which he said characterizes the U.S. foreign policy, reminding Americans of Afghanistan and Iraq and how military interventions there contributed to the spread of chaos and terrorism.

“Security is pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others, with disastrous consequences. More than a decade and two wars after 9/11, al-Qaeda and other militant extremists continue to wreak havoc,” Rowhani added.

He noted that his country is now committed to help overcome its common challenges with the West through dialogue.

He urged the United States and other Western powers to “make the most of the mandate for prudent engagement that my people have given me.”

Rowhani also pointed out that “a key aspect” of his “commitment to constructive interaction entails a sincere effort to engage with neighbors.”

On Thursday, he called for closer ties with Saudi Arabia, hailing the kingdom as a “friend and brother” of Iran, state-sponsored Tasnim News Agency reported.

He was addressing a meeting of Hajj officials in Tehran saying that his government is “willing to remove trivial tensions from the path (of bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia) in order to fulfill bilateral and the Islamic world’s interests.”

“This issue (expansion of ties) has been emphasized both in the Saudi king’s congratulatory letter to me and in my letter to thank him,” Rowhani added.

The relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been tense during the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries have conflicting approaches to regional issues in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

The tension between the two major Mideast powers intensified when the United States foiled in October 2011 an Iranian-linked plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in Washington.

The incident was referred to as “Iran assassination plot” in the media and was named by the Federal Bureau of Investigation “Operation Red Coalition.”

Two Iranians, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, were charged in a federal court in New York.

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