Dialogue, Collaboration With Saudis Possible

Dialogue, Collaboration With Saudis PossibleDialogue, Collaboration With Saudis Possible

Ambassador to Paris Ali Ahani said Iran can interact and cooperate with Saudi Arabia as a "major regional player," but he called Saudi Arabia's provocative measures that cause instability in the region as "unacceptable".

Ahani made the remarks in an interview with French-language weekly magazine Le Point on Thursday, ISNA reported.

The diplomat denied the claim that there is hatred among Sunni countries in the region toward Iran, noting that the Islamic Republic maintains very good relations with the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria and the majority of Muslim countries.

Asked about Iran's regional policy and its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria and Shiite militias in Iraq, he said Tehran cannot be indifferent to what happens around it.   

"Insecurity and instability in Iraq and Syria can spread to other countries in the region," he said, adding that Iran's strategy is therefore to make every possible effort in cooperation with authorities of these countries to help protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity to keep away the threat from its territory.  

"Upon their request, we started security cooperation with Syria and Iraq in the fight against Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)," he said, adding that the cooperation, particularly in the form of sending military advisers, has helped save many cities, including Baghdad, so far.

  No Hegemonic Agenda

The ambassador rejected allegation that Iran tries to dominate the Middle East, saying, "Iran has a large territory, with abundant natural resources and labor and an exceptional geopolitical location, which has been faced for 36 years (since the 1979 Islamic Revolution) with attempts by other countries, particularly the US, to destabilize it and even overthrow (its government)."

Yet, he said, the Islamic Republic has managed to become a major power in the region without pursuing any hegemonic objectives. "Iran wishes to develop its relationship with all the countries in the region on the basis of mutual respect."  

Turning to France's stance on Tehran's nuclear program, Ahani expressed regret over the fact that the European country has become known for its hard-line stance in the nuclear talks, "especially in a situation that other world powers, which are known for their hostility toward Iran, hold more flexible positions in this regard."

However, Ahani said in recent months France had adopted a more realistic position."Iran and France can become strong partners and assist in restoring peace and security to the region," he noted.

Asked about the possible return of French companies to Iran, he referred to the French companies' interest to regain their share in the Iranian market. He pointed to the car manufacturer Peugeot as an example, which has already prepared a joint venture plan and is waiting for a nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions before it can sign the contract with Iranian partners.