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Iran: Rouhani meets foreign leaders at inauguration - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) meets with Iran's new President Hasan Rouhani (R) at his office in Tehran on August 5, 2013. Moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani assumed Iran's presidency promising to work to lift punishing international sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic over its controversial nuclear program. (AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE)

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) meets with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani (R), at his office in Tehran on August 5, 2013. Moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani assumed Iran’s presidency promising to work to lift punishing international sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic over its controversial nuclear program. (AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, took official meetings with foreign leaders immediately before and after his inauguration ceremony on Sunday, while also appealing to the US to change its approach to Iran.

Yesterday, Rouhani was sworn into office in Iran’s parliament in a ceremony attended by delegates from over 50 countries. Following the ceremony, President Rouhani met with high-ranking officials from 14 countries, including some Arab states that either border Iran or have close links to the Islamic Republic.

In his meeting with Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah in Tehran, Rouhani underlined the importance of bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries.

“When there are conflicts and problems, foreign elements come to the region and use all sides of the conflict to their benefit, which is bad for the region,” Rouhani said.

The Kuwaiti official extended Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s congratulatory message to Rouhani on his election as Iran’s new president.

Rouhani also met with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Suleiman, to highlight the significance of Tehran–Beirut cooperation in regional security and stability.

Rouhani said: “Cooperation between Iran and Lebanon is very important for the establishment of peace, stability and security in the region.”

The new Iranian president also used a meeting with North Korean chairman of the presidium Kim Yong-nam to denounce Western pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

Rouhani said: “The US and the West have always sought excuses to confront states with which they are not friendly. Iranian nuclear facilities have always been under the supervision of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.”

The North Korean official said: “Iran and North Korea are at the anti-imperialism front. The US and the West aim to deprive other nations of their absolute rights. Independent countries must stand before them and defend their rights.”

Though Rouhani tried to use his inauguration to advance his pragmatic foreign policy program, the absence of officials from the European Union and some European states—regarded as key intermediaries between Iran and the US—was obvious, with only former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in attendance.

In addition to attending the presidential inauguration ceremony, Solana met with the chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, the influential Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, on Sunday.

In the meeting, Hashemi Rafsanjani was also reported to have criticized attempts by the US and its allies to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

He said: “No negotiations could bear fruit with threats and sanctions. This is a new era and Iran’s foreign policy is based on mutual respect and trust.”

Rouhani echoed these sentiments during his inauguration. In his speech to attendees, he appealed to the US to change its approach, saying: “I say candidly that if you want a proper response, speak to Iran not with the language of sanctions but with the language of respect.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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