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Rohani: Iran Ready To Tackle Terrorism, Bring Democracy To Syria

  • RFE/RL

Iranian President Hassan Rohani says Tehran is prepared to "eradicate terrorism" in the Middle East and help bring democracy to war-torn Syria and Yemen.

"We are prepared to assist in the eradication of terrorism and in paving the way for democracy," Rohani told the UN General Assembly in New York on September 28.

"As we aided the establishment of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are prepared to help bring about democracy in Syria and also Yemen," he said.

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama had said Washington was willing to work with Russia and Iran to bring an end to the conflict in Syria, but that there was no place for a "tyrant" like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in any post-war order. Both Tehran and Moscow are staunch allies of Assad.

Rohani also blamed the crisis in the Middle East on the United States' invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as Washington's support for Israel.

"We must not forget that the roots of today's wars, destruction and terror can be found in the occupation, invasion, and military intervention of yesterday," he said, referring to Washington.

He added: "If we did not have the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the U.S.'s unwarranted support for the inhumane actions of the Zionist regime against the oppressed nation of Palestine, today the terrorists would not have an excuse for the justification of their crimes.”

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Rohani, who is cutting his UN trip short to return to Tehran to attend the funeral of dozens of Iranians killed in a deadly Hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia, blamed the deaths on “incompetence” on the part of the Saudi organizers.

Iranian officials have accused the Saudi government of negligence and mismanagement while calling on Saudi authorities to accept responsibility for the incident that left more than 700 dead, including 226 Iranians.

"Public opinion wants the Saudi government to act immediately on its international responsibility to secure immediate consular access to identify the bodies and arrange for their repatriation without any delay,” Rohani said.

Rohani also said that Iran's historic nuclear deal reached with world powers earlier this year -- which he described as "a brilliant example of victory over war” -- can serve as a model for bringing change in the region.

'Considering the fact that this deal has created an objective basis and set an appropriate model, it can serve as a basis for fundamental change in the region,' Rohani said.

He added that Iran's policy "is to continue our peaceful effort in the region based on a win-win formula. We want to act in a way that everyone in the region and in the world can benefit from the advantages of this new atmosphere."

He also said that “a new chapter” has started in Iran’s relations with the world.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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