Hassan Rouhani: US must 'repent' if it wants ties with Iran

Comments come after US president this week called Iran the 'number one terrorist nation in the world'.

    Rouhani shrugged off pressure on Iran's economy resulting from US sanctions [Iranian Presidency Office via AP]
    Rouhani shrugged off pressure on Iran's economy resulting from US sanctions [Iranian Presidency Office via AP]

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that negotiations with the United States would be possible if it "repents" and ends hostile policies towards his country.

    Relations between Washington and Tehran have hit rock bottom since US President Donald Trump entered office and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic after withdrawing from a historic nuclear deal signed by world powers.

    "If America repents and reverses its previous approach ... apologises for its past interferences in Iran, recognises the greatness and dignity of the Iranian nation and the big Islamic Revolution, and speaks to our people with respect - we will be ready to accept the repentance and return of the US, even though it has oppressed us for many years," Rouhani said during a meeting of ambassadors of foreign countries in Tehran.

    His speech came a few days before the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    Rouhani shrugged off pressure to Iran's economy resulting from US sanctions and said the Trump administration's efforts would lead "nowhere".

    "Today our nation is more united and more resistant than before and stands up to the US and its enemies," said Rouhani.

    During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump said: "We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants 'Death to America' and threatens genocide against the Jewish people."

    He also described Iran as "the number one terrorist nation in the world", alleging Tehran was responsible for all of the conflicts in the Middle East.

    'Israel's safety'

    Rouhani also highlighted the Israel-Palestine conflict, saying if the US sought to maintain the Jewish state's safety in the region, Palestinians must be able to return to their home and choose their fate through a referendum.

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    "Even if Israel's safety is America's concern in this region, we should say that as long as the Palestinians have not returned to their homeland, safety for this region and historic Palestine would not be guaranteed. Even if America wants safety for Israel, it will happen only when Palestinians have returned home," Rouhani told the envoys.

    On February 11, Iran will mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution that overthrew the secular US-backed Shah and brought a theocratic system to power.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies