Rouhani says regional stability impossible without Iran

TEHRAN, Iran — Candidates backing reform of Iran's clerically overseen government swept municipal elections in Tehran, taking all 21 local council seats in the country's capital while moderate President Hassan Rouhani won a second term in office, authorities said on Monday.

"Once again, by his repetitive and baseless claims about Iran, the American president. tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia", Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump ended a visit to Tehran's arch-foe Saudi Arabia where arms deals worth nearly $110 billion were signed.

The Iranian President also said that peace can not be achieved in the Middle East without Tehran's help.

Rouhani also criticized Saudi Arabia, Tehran's main regional rival, just hours after Trump departed the country bound for Israel, where he arrived Monday.

In a jibe at the billion-dollar deals signed between Trump and the Saudi government, Rouhani said: "You can't solve terrorism just by giving your people's money to a superpower".

Iran's economy has slowly recovered since the lifting of sanctions previous year but deals with Western investors are few and far between as foreign investors are cautious about trading with or investing in Iran, fearing penalties from remaining unilateral US sanctions. "We will not wait for them and their permission".

"The United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias", he added.

"The issue of terrorism can not be solved through giving money to superpowers", Rouhani said, adding that his nation would "uproot terrorism" and bring stability to the region. Our missiles are for peace and for defense ... "I hope it can settle so that we can have a better judgement about those in Washington", said Rouhani.

In Khoramabad, a city of 500,000 near the Iraqi border, a 60-year-old bird seller took first place after a simple campaign that involved walking the streets from dawn to dusk introducing himself to people. "Iran has stood by their side and continues to do so", he said.

Rouhani's efforts to open up Iran to less hostile relations with the West still have to be couched in the rhetoric of anti-Americanism that has been a pillar of Iranian rule since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

"The people know. that without competition on the basis of quality, not on the basis of political or security power, that our economy can not progress", he said.

  • Leroy Wright