January 23, 2014 - 16:03 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Iran is negotiating with the United States as part of a "constructive engagement" with the world community and wants Washington to back up its words with actions, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday, Jan 23, according to Reuters.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the pragmatic president who took office last August also said relations with Europe were being normalized now that an interim nuclear accord was being implemented.
Addressing about 2,500 global business and political leaders, he invited European companies, especially major energy groups, to seize economic opportunities in Iran.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to engage in constructive cooperation for promoting global energy security, drawing on its vast oil and gas resources," he said.
Underscoring that pitch, he held a private meeting with oil and gas executives at a hotel in the Swiss resort before his speech.
A deal with six major powers including the United States to restrict Iran's nuclear program in exchange for a partial easing of economic sanctions came into force this week. However, most sanctions, including a severe squeeze on access to the international financial system, remain in force and the United States has stressed Western companies should not regard Iran as "open for business".
Rouhani promised to pursue a foreign policy of "prudence and moderation" to revive the battered economy. He called for cooperation with all Iran's neighbors but did not mention Gulf rival Saudi Arabia by name and refused, when pressed twice, to include Israel among states with which Iran sought friendly relations, according to Reuters.
Tehran wanted friendship and cooperation with "all the countries which the Islamic Republic of Iran has recognized", he said.
Rouhani repeated Iran's standard pledge not to seek nuclear weapons and said Tehran was willing to accept all safeguards and inspections of the UN nuclear agency, provided it was not subjected to "discrimination". Western countries believe the atomic effort is aimed at developing a military capability.
"We never sought and will never seek nuclear weapons," the president said. "I declare that a nuclear weapon has no place in our security strategy."
Rouhani said Iran had a strong will to clinch a permanent settlement to the nuclear issue while the six-month interim accord is in force, but he said other countries might succumb to "pressure from other parties" - a veiled reference to Israel - not to reach a deal.
In a foretaste of tough negotiations on a long-term agreement, he said: "Iran will not accept any obstacles to its scientific progress."