Rouhani: You Can’t Stabilize the Middle East Without Us

Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, said Wednesday that the world needs Iran's help to stabilize a troubled Middle East, AFP reported, in remarks pointing to the wider ramifications of a deal over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

In a live televised speech marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, Rouhani implicitly linked ongoing nuclear talks with world powers to resolving bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

"If there is going to be peace and stability in the region, and terrorism is to be uprooted, there is no other way than with the presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran," he claimed.

A huge crowd filled Azadi (Freedom) Square in Tehran to hear the Iranian president commemorate the tumultuous events that ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi from power 36 years ago.

As is customary at major rallies, American, British and Israeli flags were burned, noted AFP.

The fall of the shah was followed months later by the storming of the U.S.embassy in Tehran by Islamist students, culminating in American diplomats being held prisoner.

The crisis, which lasted 444 days, caused U.S.-Iranian diplomatic relations to be severed and it ushered in deep distrust which persists to this day.

This year's anniversary was the second to coincide with an intense diplomatic effort to end the nuclear deadlock but the first since jihadists of the Islamic State group seized large parts of Iraq and Syrian territory.

Referring to the fight against ISIS as well as longstanding instability in Yemen and Lebanon, Rouhani said Iran was playing a leading regional role.

"You've seen in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen that the power that could help those nations against terrorist groups was the Islamic Republic of Iran," he said.

Rouhani then raised the issue of the nuclear talks and the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran for pursuing its atomic program.

"What we are offering is to reach a win-win agreement in which Iran will show transparency in its peaceful nuclear activities," he said.

"And the other side must end its wrong, inhumane and illegal sanctions. This is in the interest of both sides. They too need this," added Rouhani.

Iran and the six world powers reached an interim deal in November of 2013, under which Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.

The sides were then supposed to continue talks and turn the interim deal into a permanent. However, the talks have stalled and two deadlines for a final deal have been missed, with a third one looming on July 1.

Rouhani said earlier this week that the West should “seize the opportunity” of a landmark nuclear deal with his country.

“Right now good progress has been made although we are some distance away from the final agreement. “Iran has taken necessary steps and now it’s the other side’s turn to seize the opportunity,” he said.

Recent reports indicated that the United States is ceding ground to Iran in talks and will now allow it to “keep much of its uranium-enriching technology,” thus allowing Iran to maintain its self-proclaimed “right to enrich uranium”.

Before the talks were extended until July, Iran was toughening its stance, with chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi saying he sees no prospect for a deal unless the other side abandons its “illogical excessive demands”.

A senior Iranian official followed those comments by declaring that Iran will demand that all Western sanctions be lifted as part of a final deal, rejecting an American proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions.


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