France gainsays Trump, highlights Iran's role in Mideast peace

Iran's newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani took barbed swipes at the United States of America and its ally Saudi Arabia on Monday, hitting back at both a day after President Donald Trump used his first foreign trip to the kingdom to call for further isolation of Iran.

"Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon - never ever - and (it) must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias", Mr Trump said in Jerusalem.

"People of Saudi Arabia are our friends, and we have always loved them".

On the arms deal, Rouhani added, "We don't need that".

On Sunday, Mr Trump, in a keynote speech before dozens of Muslim leaders gathered in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, said the Iranian government gives terrorists "safe harbour, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment".

"From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region", the USA president said.

Countering Trump's calls to isolate the Islamic Republic, Rouhani stressed that peace in the Middle East could not be achieved without Tehran's help.

Already fragile diplomatic and trade ties between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite-dominated Iran were severed previous year after Saudi Arabia executed a Shi'ite cleric and as a result, protesters ransacked the Saudi embassy in Iran.

"Unfortunately, under the hostile and aggressive policies of the American statesmen, we are witnessing a renewed strengthening of terrorist groups in the region and miscalculation of the dictatorships which support these groups", he said.

"Once again, by his meddlesome and baseless claims about Iran, the American president tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia", he added.

"The Islamic Republic is ready to cooperate in every way with other countries, including France, to fight terrorism and solve the Syrian crisis", stated Rouhani during a talk with French President Macron, quoted by Iranian news agency IRNA.

South Africa views Iran as a strategic trading partner within the Middle East and Central Asian regions.

"US President Trump saw almost 45 million Iranians went to the ballot boxes, but he chose to visit a country [Saudi Arabia] that does not know what election is, and its people have never seen a ballot box", he noted.

On May 17, 2017, the US Administration upheld the Iran sanctions waiver, keeping the nuclear deal alive.

"The Americans do not know our region, that's what the catch is", he said. "American [officials] were wrong about our region", Rouhani said and expressed hope that the U.S. administration would consider the interests of its own people.

  • Leroy Wright