March 11, 2014
Iran's Rouhani eyes rebuilding relations with United States
Iran wants to improve bilateral relations with the United States and other Western powers, President Hassan Rouhani said in an editorial published in a German newspaper today, broaching an issue he has so far avoided since he took office.
Rouhani won a landslide election victory in June promising a policy of engagement with the West and has had regular diplomatic contacts with the United States, but they have been limited to negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program.
"We want to rebuild and improve our relations to European and North American countries on a basis of mutual respect," he wrote in a contribution for the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
"We are striving to avoid new burdens on relations between Iran and the United States and also to remove the tensions that we have inherited," said Rouhani, who has promised to reduce Tehran's isolation and to win an easing of sanctions.
Tehran and Washington severed relations after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
Iran cannot forget everything that has affected relations with the United States over the last 60 years, he said, but added: "We must now concentrate on the present and orientate ourselves towards the future."
Rouhani's diplomatic pragmatism has already resulted in significant progress. While in New York for the United Nations General Assembly in September, Rouhani held an historic telephone call with Barack Obama, the first time the presidents of the two nations have spoken in more than three decades.