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Iran's Rohani Addresses Extremism, Nuclear Issue At UN

  • RFE/RL

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rohani has said the West is responsible for "strategic blunders" that have turned the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Caucasus into a “haven for terrorists and extremists.”

Speaking on September 25, Rohani blamed the rise of violent extremism on "certain states" that are now “failing to withstand it.”

The comments come days after a U.S.-led international aerial campaign against the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist group was broadened to include Syria, as well as Iraq.

Rohani warned that "improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East."

He said it is up to the region to find “the right solution to this quandary” and called for local "moderate politicians and elites" to be the ones to "shoulder the responsibility of leadership” to counter violence and terrorism.

If nations outside the region wish to take action against terrorism, he added, they should support these local leaders.

Rohani also expressed doubt that the world is actually united against the threat posed by the extremists.

In 'Earnest And Good Faith'

On the nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers, which have been stalled for months, Rohani vowed that Tehran will continue the negotiations in “earnest and good faith.”

Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, plus Germany, want Iran to scale down nuclear activities, such as uranium enrichment, so that it cannot produce nuclear weapons.

Tehran, which denies trying to develop nuclear weapons, wants tough UN and Western sanctions to be lifted.

Rohani said that avoiding “excessive demands” is the “prerequisite” for the success of the talks.

The Iranian president also said that a final nuclear agreement is possible before a November deadline if the West shows “flexibility.”

He said an accord would create a new environment "for cooperation at regional and international levels, allowing for greater focus on some very important regional issues such as combating violence and extremism in the region."

"Any delay in arriving at a final agreement only raises the costs," he added.

'Do Not Let This Opportunity Pass'

Rohani’s comments come a day after U.S. President Barack Obama called on Iran to take advantage of ongoing nuclear talks to find a "diplomatic resolution" to the deadlock.

Obama told the UN General Assembly: "My message to Iran's leaders and people has been simple and consistent: Do not let this opportunity pass.”

Also on September 24, Rohani held talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the United Nations, the first meeting between the countries' leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Cameron's office said the two agreed that London and Tehran should work to improve ties and that it was crucial to reach a long-term nuclear deal.

Cameron and Rohani also noted the threat posed to the region by the IS militant group and "agreed that all states in the region must do more" to cut support for terrorists groups.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP