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Call for Public Help to Address Nat'l Problems

President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a conference on social responsibility in Tehran on Nov. 14.President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a conference on social responsibility in Tehran on Nov. 14.
Under the current government, dependence on oil has been reduced to about 30%, while the remaining 70% rely on taxes

President Hassan Rouhani called for closer cooperation between government and the public to help address unemployment, water shortage and environmental crises, the country's top problems.

"The government and the people should join hands. Today, joblessness, water and environment are the main issues facing our country," Rouhani told a conference on social responsibility in Tehran on Monday.

He championed the 2015 nuclear agreement with major powers, which has been in force since January to curtail Tehran's nuclear work in return for easing international sanctions.

Rouhani hoped to be able to capitalize on the sanctions-free situation to open the country to global markets, thereby jumpstarting the sanctions-hit national economy.

But his push for economic reform has faced harsh criticism from rival conservatives who fear that opening to the outside world might expose the state to the West's "corruptive influence".

Rouhani rejected the conservative skepticism, saying such perception of the West as a system totally ridden with corruption is inaccurate, according to a transcript of his remarks carried by his official website.

"If so, they could not have achieved scientific and economic progress on such a large scale. We should emulate their positive measures and activities in these sectors," he said.

He had said last month that seeking self-reliance does not contradict cooperation with other countries, noting that no individual or company can survive without interaction with the outside world.

The president repeatedly highlighted the need to upgrade technologies and equipment currently in use in the country, which he says demands economic interaction at the international level.

Rouhani said the government has managed to cut the country's reliance on oil, a goal that also lies at the core of a national economic concept, namely Resistance Economy, outlined by the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to bolster domestic production.

"Under this government, dependence on oil has been reduced to about 30%, while the remaining 70% rely on taxes. This means that it is the people who are actually running the country," he said.

A global glut has pushed down oil prices by as much as 70% since 2014.

Iran is struggling to regain its oil export market share after the lifting of international sanctions.

The sanctions had cut its crude exports from a peak of 2.5 million bpd before 2011 to just over 1 million bpd in recent years.

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