Rouhani made the remarks in a press conference with domestic and international media in Tehran on Sunday, saying, “All [economic] indexes show that we have weathered [the worst phase of] the US maximum pressure [policy]. Americans have reached the conclusion that the path they have chosen [for dealing with Iran] has been based on a wrong strategy.”
He added, “What they thought that they could use maximum pressure to make us sit at the negotiating table from a position of weakness is not possible [to take place] and we have talked to the world with power and dignity, but we will never negotiate from a position of weakness.”
The president continued by saying that although US sanctions have caused come problems for the Iranian people by affecting their ordinary lives, they will fail to bear fruit and will not benefit the country’s enemies.
He added that the United States started to exert maximum pressure on Iran more than 20 months ago but Tehran has managed to better the conditions over the past six months.
“Therefore, sanctions and maximum pressure have failed. We are faced with better circumstances in the region in comparison with two years ago and we have unity in the country,” he emphasized.
In response to a question about the outcome of Iran’s efforts to implement its proposed plan, known as the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), for ensuring security in the Persian Gulf, Rouhani said, “It is clear to the world that there will be no peace in this region without Iran’s presence. Regional stability only materializes in the presence of an important and powerful country such as Iran.”
He added that the HOPE initiative has been proposed to all countries during the 2019 United Nations General Assembly and sent to the secretary general as well as regional states and other countries, inviting them to participate, noting that some countries have already given positive answers to Iran’s call while some others are yet to answer.
Rouhani emphasized that every country in the region should enjoy peace without exception, otherwise the region would see stability fade away.
He said Iran insists on the HOPE initiative as “one of the best solutions to establish sustainable security in this region.”
In an address to the 74th session of the General Assembly on September 25, 2019, President Rouhani said as a steward of maritime security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, Iran invites all countries that are affected by developments in the strategic region to join the country’s new regional peace initiative.
Asked about the consequences of the potential re-election of Donald Trump as the US president after failure of his impeachment at US Senate, Rouhani said, “The ruling party in the United States does not matter to us. What is important to us is our own national interests.”
“There have been, and still are, two groups [of politicians] in the United States; one group that believes in putting pressure on Iran to steer Iran toward their desired path and another group that believed Iran is more powerful than they thought and they should reach an agreement with it,” Iran’s president said.
Rouhani added that the current leaders of the United States are under the influence of Israelis and some reactionary countries in the region and believe in exerting pressure on Iran, but they have failed to force Iran into submission.
Responding to a question about the upcoming parliamentary elections in Iran, the president said a huge turnout by Iranians will “definitely be beneficial to all of us, and the Americans will not certainly be happy with people’s massive participation of people.”
He added that the Americans want the smallest possible turnout of Iranians in the coming elections, which would make them happy, but it would not be beneficial to the country.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani emphasized that the Iranian government will give no list of aspirants and will not support any candidate in the elections, adding, “People are free and I hope they would take part in the elections in the best possible manner and its outcome, God willing, would be very good for our nation and we would have a very good parliament to run the country.”
The 11th parliamentary elections and the midterm elections for the Assembly of Experts – a body whose members designate the country’s Leader – are to be held simultaneously on February 21. A second round could take place on April 17 if some seats remain vacant.
Last year, Iran’s Majlis (parliament) objected to a motion to increase the number of the seats, keeping the figure at 290.
A total of 57,918,000 people are eligible to cast their ballots. Therefore, there would be one lawmaker at Majlis per each 190,000-strong segment of the Iranian population.
Asked about messages sent to Iran by Saudi Arabia, as revealed by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference, Rouhani said, “We have no complicated and insolvable problem with Saudi Arabia, and anytime that Saudi Arabia would be ready, issues between us could be discussed. However, the most important issue in the region is currently the issue of Yemen.”
Noting that Riyadh made a “big mistake” in Yemen as it thought it would be able to force the country into submission in a matter of days or months, the Iranian president emphasized that Saudi Arabia has committed an unprecedented massacre in the impoverished Arab country.
“Of course, if Riyadh stopped its aggression against Yemen, conditions would be much more ready for dialogue and reconciliation,” Iran’s president said.
Rouhani stated that Iran believes the issue of Yemen should be left to its people and it is the people of Yemen who must resolve [that issue], adding, “Countries that have invaded Yemen, must end their aggression and also pay compensation to the people of Yemen.”
Speaking in the panel discussion themed ‘A conversation with Iran’ during the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Germany on Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran received a message from Saudi Arabia after the January assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani by US forces in Iraq “but, we followed it up, they didn’t.”
In their message, the Saudis said that “we want to have a dialog based on respect” with Iran, he said, adding, “We said immediately. Same day we said yes, no response.”
The top Iranian diplomat emphasized that Saudi officials “softened their rhetoric for a couple of weeks” after General Soleimani’s assassination because they were worried about the Islamic Republic’s response.