New Iranian president Hassan Rouhani says relations with the US are “an old wound that needs to be healed”, but adds that America needs to respect Iran’s nuclear rights.
Mr Rouhani, who swept to power at the weekend, said he wants a pledge from the US that it will not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs before direct talks between the two countries can take place.
In his first news conference since being elected, the cleric said: “The issue of relations between Iran and America is a complicated and difficult issue. It is an old wound that needs to be … healed.”
He also said that the Iranian government will pursue a policy of improving international relations.
“Your government … will follow up national goals … in the path of saving the country’s economy, revive ethics and constructive interaction with the world through moderation,” he said.
“I hope that all countries use this opportunity.”
Rouhani, formerly chief nuclear negotiator under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s predecessor, said Iran was not willing to give up its uranium enrichment programme, something the west is concerned could lead to iran building nuclear weapons.
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However he did make a prromise that the country would be more transparent: “Our nuclear programmes are completely transparent,” he said. But we are ready to show greater transparency and make clear for the whole world that the steps of the Islamic Republic of Iran are completely within international frameworks.”
The news conference ended suddenly after a man sprang up and shouted a slogan in favour of reformist leader Mirhossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest since 2011.
“Rouhani remember, Mirhossein must be (present),” the man shouted live on state television as security guards bundled him away. Rohani left the dais and state television cut to scenes of people voting and music.
Mr Rouhani was also congratulated on Sunday by some of the losing candidates in the presidential race.
Saeed Jalili, previously considered the favourite to win, said: “I extend sincere congratulations to Mr Rouhani for garnering the trust of the majority of the nation and being selected by the people. I give him sincere congratulations for this.
“In my opinion, I think, now everyone must ensure that president-elect, Mr Rouhani, is successful in dealing with economic situation and the difficulties that exist.”
Mohsen Rezai, another losing candidate, said: “I extend my congratulations for the election of Hassan Rouhani both to him and his supporters. I hope from our God that he is able to deal with the economic difficulties the people face.”
Former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati said: “First a congratulations for garnering the vote of the people, the vote of the people is a big indication of support and you must accept that choice. I am hopeful, that God willing, this vote will be even stronger in the future.”