Iran-US Enmity Eases, But Distrust Remains

Iran-US Enmity Eases, But Distrust RemainsIran-US Enmity Eases, But Distrust Remains

President Hassan Rouhani says Tehran and Washington "have taken the first steps" toward decreasing their enmity due to the recent landmark nuclear accord.

But he said despite the agreement, "the distance, the disagreements, the lack of trust, will not go away soon."


Rouhani made the remarks in an interview with CBS that aired on Sunday, Reuters reported.

The United States and Iran have been at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Deep differences remain over Middle East conflicts.

"What's important is which direction we are heading?" Rouhani added. "Are we heading toward amplifying the enmity or decreasing this enmity? I believe we have taken the first steps toward decreasing this enmity."

The nuclear accord reached on July 14 between Iran and the six major powers (the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) lifts sanctions on Iran in return for temporary limits on its nuclear work.

The accord's opponents in the US Congress were unable to muster the votes to block it by last week's legislative deadline for action.

***Positive View  

Rouhani, who was interviewed in Tehran, expressed confidence that the Majlis and the Supreme National Security Council would likewise approve the accord.

"The majority of our people, in opinion polls, have a positive view of the agreement," he said. "Institutions like the Parliament and the Supreme National Security Council are usually not far removed from public opinion and move in that direction."

Iran is holding several Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has dual US and Iranian citizenship. Iranian officials have said they want freedom for Iranians held in the United States, some of whom have been jailed on charges of circumventing US sanctions on Tehran.

Asked if he would support a prisoner exchange, Rouhani said, "I don't particularly like the word exchange, but from a humanitarian perspective, if we can take a step, we must do it. The American side must take its own steps."

The president is scheduled to travel to the United States this week for the UN General Assembly.

In the Syrian conflict, Iran has backed President Bashar al-Assad, and Rouhani said Assad should stay in power at least until terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State are defeated. "How can we fight the terrorists without the government staying?"

The weekly chant of "Death to America" in Iran "is not a slogan against the American people," Rouhani added.

"The policies of the United States have been against the national interests of Iranian people," he said. "We cannot forget the past, but at the same time our gaze must be toward the future."