Rouhani says nuclear deal could start 'new era' in relations with US

By Margaret Menge  |  Nov. 12, 2015 at 12:05 PM
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TEHRAN, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that the nuclear agreement reached with world powers has the potential to ease tensions between Iran and the United States, but said that the agreement doesn't address the larger relationship between the two countries.

"If it is well implemented, it will lay the foundations for a lesser tension with the U.S., thus creating the conditions for a new era," he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

But Rouhani went on to say that Iran's relationship with the United States was a "different issue" that dates to the Iranian Revolution.

In 1979, the U.S.-supported Shah of Iran was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution, led by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Since that time, Iran has been governed as an Islamic republic.

Rouhani will depart Tehran for Italy on Saturday where he will meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, President Sergio Mattarella and with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

It is the first time that Rouhani has visited a European capital since he was elected president of Iran in 2013.

Iran is working toward implementation of the nuclear agreement, said Rouhani, including continuing to convert the Arak nuclear reactor.

He warned, however, that the United States and the other so-called P5+1 countries -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany -- must also meet their obligations under the agreement, which would lift sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program if the country meets the conditions of the agreement.

"By the end of the year, I think we'll get to the implementation day," he said.

Rouhani discussed the possibility of renewed diplomatic relations with the United States: "One day these embassies will re-open but what counts is behavior. The Americans hold the key to this."

On rapprochement, Rouhani set conditions for the United States, adding that if "they modify their policies, correct errors committed in these 37 years and apologize to the Iranian people, the situation will change and good things can happen."

The U.S. embassy in Tehran was closed in 1979 following its seizure by Iranian university students.

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