Source: Tehran Times
Rohani's message to the American people:
I want to reduce tension with US.
TEHRAN - Iran regards Iraq’s capital Baghdad and the country’s holy sites, such as Karbala and Najaf, as its “red line” and will resort to any possible means to avoid their fall into the hands of terrorists, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says.
“When we say the red line we mean the red line,” Rouhani told NBC on Wednesday. “It means we will not allow Baghdad or religious sites such as Karbala or Najaf be occupied by the terrorists.”
In response to a question whether Iran has combat boots in Iraq, the president said, “I basically do not think there is any need to do so, unless the Iraqi government would ask us.”
On the U.S.-led campaign against ISIL, Rouhani said any measure within the Iraqi territory would be condemned unless it is in harmony with the Iraqi government.
He said the U.S.-led coalition against the ISIL group was not a serious movement, adding that the U.S. had been present in the region since 2001 to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan but its presence not only failed to solve the problem of terrorism, but also exacerbated the crisis.
Rouhani also ruled out Iran’s support for a probable U.S. land force dispatch to Iraq.
“We do not consider such a move the right thing to do. Past experience, as well, is a proof that such foreign forces are not competent enough for the job.
“When American forces were in Iraq, there were terrorist explosions every day. They failed to take back Fallujah with their numerous forces. How can they do the same now with a small number of forces?” Rouhani asked.
He also questioned U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to go after ISIL with airstrikes.
“Maybe it is necessary for airstrikes in some conditions and some circumstances,” he added. “However, airstrikes should take place with the permission of the people and the government of that country.”
Rouhani also ruled out talks between Iran and the U.S. for joint campaign against ISIL on the sidelines of their New York nuclear talks.
“On the sidelines of the negotiations, talks on any subject are possible; however, we feel no necessity to negotiate with the Americans or to cooperate with them in that respect. Nevertheless, if the Iraqi government and people ask for it, we will always be by their side,” he asserted.
The United States has been trying to build an international coalition to fight the militant group, but Iran rejected Washington’s offer for talks on the issue.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Thursday, complained about the refusal of the United States and other world powers to invite Iran to an international conference in Paris this week on the Iraq crisis.
He said the coalition Washington was building against ISIL was a “coalition of apologizers,” because most of those who attended had originally supported it. Zarif added that later the group “came to haunt its creators.”
Rouhani says ISIL wants to kill humanity
Rouhani also denounced the terrorist ISIL group for its savagery, blaming the U.S. presence in the region for the exacerbation of terrorism crisis.
Asked about the extremists’ beheading of American James Foley and Steven Sotloff and Briton David Haines, Rouhani said ISIL’s actions were against the Islamic tenets.
“They want to kill humanity,” he said. “From the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent person amounts to the killing of the whole humanity. Therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people is indeed a matter of shame for ISIL and it’s the matter of concern and sorrow for humanity.”
‘Negotiation is only solution to nuclear issue’
On the nuclear talks between Iran and the 5+1 group, Rouhani said he believes the nuclear talks can still lead to a resolution. “Maybe the time could be arguable, either today or tomorrow. However, we have no doubt that the only solution to the nuclear issue goes through negotiation.”
The Iranian nuclear negotiators have entered nuclear talks with representatives from the 5+1 group in New York. The talks are being held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.
Rouhani also expressed optimism about Iran’s warming relations with the United States.
“The close relationship between the two nations can resolve many problems. A closer contact and relationship would also be beneficial for the American people, and they can open new ways for the American politicians. We have to look at future more than the past,” he said.
Iran's president Hassan Rouhani speaks to NBC's Ann Curry in an exclusive interview
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