Rohani Criticizes Trump's Saudi Summit, Says Vote Shows Iranians Want Engagement
RFE/RL May 22, 2017
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has criticized a summit of Muslim countries that was attended by U.S. President Donald Trump, calling the meeting in Saudi Arabia a "a show with no meaning."
Rohani spoke at a news conference on May 22, three days after winning a second term in an election he said showed that Iranians favor "moderation" and engagement with the world.
Trump addressed dozens of leaders of Muslim states in Riyadh on May 21, urging leaders to fight against Islamic extremism and calling for the isolation of Iran, which he accused of fueling "the fires of sectarian conflict and terror."
"The gathering in Saudi Arabia was just a show with no practical or political value of any kind," Rohani said.
"You can't solve terrorism just by giving people's money to a superpower," Rohani added, referring to the multi-billion-dollar deals signed between Washington and Riyadh during Trump's visit to Riyadh.
Rohani's remarks came as Trump trained more criticism on Iran in a visit to Israel on May 22, saying that Tehran must stop supporting "terrorists and militia" and must never acquire nuclear weapons.
"Most importantly, the United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon -- never ever -- and must cease its deadly funding, training, and equipping of terrorists and militias," said Trump, speaking at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's residence, hours after he arrived in Israel.
Iran's support of Shi'ite allies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen have sparked concerns among Sunni-majority states and Israel, all of which are eager curb Tehran's influence.
But Rohani said stability in the Middle East without Iran's help was impossible and accused the United States of "lacking knowledge" of the region.
"Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran? Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran?" he said.
Rohani said ties with Washington were "a curvy road," saying he hoped the Trump administration will "settle down" so "we could pass more accurate judgments."
Rohani also defended Iran's ballistic-missile program, which has been heavily criticized by the Trump administration.
"The U.S. leaders should know that whenever we need a missile test because of a technical aspect, we will test," he said. "We will not wait for them and their permission."
He added: "Our missiles are for peace, not for attack."
Rohani sounded confident after the election, in which he soundly defeated hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi and two other candidates.
"We wanted to tell the world that on the basis of mutual respect and shared interests, we are to ready to have interaction," he said.
However, Rohani's power to implement policy is limited because under Iran's theocratic system, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has final decision-making authority.
With reporting by Reuters and AFP
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|