Tillerson calls out Iran over human rights, terror support

President Trump while in Saudi Arabia is getting "concrete commitments" from Persian Gulf leaders to end radical Islamic terrorism but is not pressing the issue of human rights violations in the regions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump opened an anti-terrorism center in Saudi Arabia during his tour in the region, and accused Iran of being a key source of funding and support for militant groups in the Middle East.

Trump rattled a saber in Iran's direction just two weeks into his presidency, fuming on Twitter after Tehran conducted a missile test in a show of defiance to the West.

Iran's newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani took barbed swipes at the USA 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.

"The Americans do not know our religion, that's what the catch is", Rouhani said in response to a question from AP.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani visits the election office in Tehran, Iran, May 19, 2017.

Jubeir castigated Iran as an untrustworthy terror-backing rogue nation. The Iranian president criticized Trump's decision to visit Saudi Arabia, noting that the kingdom "has never seen a ballot box" while Iran just had another successful presidential election in which over 40 million people voted.

Rouhani, 69, won a landslide victory in Friday's presidential election, according to official results.

A moderate compared to some of the country's hardline clerics and political leaders, Rouhani was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States, the European Union and other partners.

"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", Trump said.

Also Monday, the foreign ministers of France and Germany said their countries want to work with Iran following Rouhani's re-election but are pressing Tehran to keep to the nuclear deal and to help de-escalate Mideast conflicts.

Tillerson said the proposed defence packages also cover border security, maritime and air security, air force modernisation, missile defence, cybersecurity and communications upgrades. Even so, global investors "are still anxious about remaining USA sanctions and possible future sanctions that could target Iran's missile program", she said by email.

  • Leroy Wright