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Expanding Int’l Ties Key to Attracting Vital Investment

“Even if we mobilize all national resources, it would not be enough to fund the projects ready for implementation in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, which are worth over $200 billion”
President Hassan Rouhani meets government officials in Kerman Province on Feb. 1.President Hassan Rouhani meets government officials in Kerman Province on Feb. 1.

President Hassan Rouhani underscored the need for the expansion of the foreign policy outreach to be able to effectively compete in the hotly-contested international investment market.

"Even if we mobilize all national resources, it would not be enough to fund the projects ready for implementation in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, which are worth over $200 billion," Rouhani's official website quoted him as saying on Thursday.

"So we need to use the resources of international banks and funds and all other available global facilities, particularly the advanced technologies," the president said in his address to a gathering of government officials in the southeastern province of Kerman.

"In today's world, we have to exploit the full potential for communication and the modern technology to reach the highest level of relations with the world because we are facing too many regional and global rivals in attracting overseas investment," Rouhani said.

He championed the 2015 nuclear accord with the six major powers to have economic sanctions against Iran lifted in return for time-bound constraints on its nuclear program.

Rouhani has won two consecutive presidential votes since 2013 on a platform to make sweeping economic reforms and touted the nuclear agreement as a breakthrough to revive the national economy, hit by over a decade of sanctions.

But those prospects have been complicated by, among other things, an increasingly hostile US stance.

US President Donald Trump has pursued a hard line on the Islamic Republic since taking office in January 2017 and has been pushing to interfere with the implementation of the nuclear deal, which he has branded "the worst deal ever negotiated".

Trump's bellicose stance has added to other complications facing Iran's foreign trade caused by the remaining non-nuclear US sanctions that include a ban on using the US dollar and its financial system to clear Iran-related transactions.

Trump said in a Jan. 12 statement that he is giving European partners and the US Congress a final chance to address what he says are "disastrous flaws" in the Iran deal, or, the republican hawk threatened, he would not resign waivers of sanctions against Iran in May.

The deal would effectively fall apart should he decline to extend the waivers.

***Trump's Publicity Stunt

Also during his first State of the Union address to a joint session of the US Congress on Tuesday, Trump reiterated his backing for the protestors who took to the streets of Iranian cities in late December to demonstrate against the Rouhani government's poor handling of the economy.

Elsewhere in a public address during his visit to Kerman Province, Rouhani criticized Trump's expression of compassion for the Iranian people as a publicity stunt in line with his hostile Iran policy, citing the pain and suffering of the Iranian people that resulted from years of sanctions and pressure by the US and its western allies.

"No one in Washington should be deluded into thinking that they can decide for the great Iranian nation," Rouhani said.

"The Iranian people have not forgotten your history of atrocities… They have not forgotten your aggressions on the region. You invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and are now assisting Daesh [an Arabic acronym for the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group]. You do not want the region to enjoy security."

He added that the same people who Trump claims to support bore the brunt of the cruel US-led sanctions for years.

"Were your sanctions beneficial or detrimental to the people in Iran? You even sanctioned their access to medicine… How can you claim to have compassion for them?"

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