Middle East

Rouhani dismisses Trump warning over Iran 'threat'

Hassan Rouhani speaks to reporters in Tehran (22 May 2017) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hassan Rouhani was speaking at his first news conference since his re-election on Friday

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned his US counterpart, Donald Trump, that regional stability cannot be achieved without Tehran's help.

Mr Trump began a trip to Israel on Monday by saying that it shared a "common cause" with its Arab neighbours in "the threat posed by Iran".

He also demanded that Iran cease its support of "terrorists and militias".

Mr Rouhani dismissed the criticism and said it was actually Iran and its allies that were fighting terrorists.

Iran and the US back opposing sides in the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, but they are both fighting the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq.

Speaking after meeting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Mr Trump said the US and Israel faced "common threats - from [IS] and other terrorist groups, to countries like Iran that sponsor terrorism and fund and foment terrible violence".

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Media captionWatch: Donald Trump visits sacred Western Wall and makes Iran warning

"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.

Mr Trump's comments came a day after he urged Arab and Muslim leaders at a speech at a summit in Saudi Arabia to "work together to isolate Iran" unless it is "willing to be a partner for peace".

Speaking at his first news conference since winning a second term in Friday's presidential election in Iran, Mr Rouhani dismissed the summit as "just a show".

"Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran? Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran?" he asked.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Rouhani said Iran would continue its ballistic missile programme

Mr Rouhani, a moderate cleric who signed a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015, said the US had "resorted to many methods against Iran but failed in all".

"We are waiting for the new US administration to find stability and continuity in its policies," he added.

"The problem is that the Americans do not know our region and those who advise US officials are misleading them."

Mr Rouhani stressed that it was Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians and members of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement who had been fighting terrorists in the Middle East in recent years, and accused the US and its allies of funding terrorists.

Mr Rouhani also said Iran would continue its ballistic missile programme, which has been heavily criticised by the Trump administration.

"The Iranian nation has decided to be powerful. Our missiles are for peace and for defence," he said. "American officials should know that whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission."

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