Iran's Rouhani calls for Middle East 'dialogue'
HO (IRANIAN PRESIDENCY/AFP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that Middle Eastern countries should solve their problems together without relying on external powers.
"We believe that if there is a problem in the region, it can be solved through dialogue," Rouhani said in a speech at the opening of a port in the southeastern city of Chabahar, broadcast by state television.
"We do not need arms nor the intervention of foreign powers. We can solve our problems ourselves through unity and dialogue."
Rouhani's comments follow an escalation in the bitter rivalry between Shiite-ruled Iran and Saudi Arabia's Sunni monarchy.
The two powers back opposing groups throughout the region -- notably in Syria and Yemen -- and Saudi leaders have lately stepped up efforts to counter Iran's growing influence, raising fears of further conflict.
In Syria, Iran backs beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad supported by the Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah fighters on ground. Whist the Saudi kingdom is the main provider of military and financial assistance to the several rebel groups.
Meanwhile in Yemen, Iran backs the Houthi rebels who forced President Mansour Hadi to flee in 2015. Saudi Arabia, alongside a coalition of Sunni Arab states has expressed strong support for the ousted President and have since engaged in an air campaign aimed at restoring him.
But Rouhani said recent victories against the Islamic State group opened the way for the Middle East to move past its reputation for "war and conflict between Shiite and Sunni... and the presence and interventions of foreign powers".
Saudi Arabia and Iran's critics in the West have accused Tehran of seeking to dominate the region at the expense of its neighbours.
Rouhani said: "No country can claim to be the superior power in this region. Just as the superpowers couldn't accomplish that either.
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Rouhani is a black-hearted, fork-tongued liar. The only dialogue he wants with Israel involves rockets and warheads. As for the other Middle East countries, the only reason he hisses about dialogue is because the fighting is taking too long and is costing Iran blood (so far mostly its proxies) and treasure.