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Rouhani Says Iran ‘Ready To Work’ With Gulf States

Iranian President Hassan Rohani
Iranian President Hassan Rohani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says that Tehran wants to improve ties with all countries in the Middle East, where Iran has been involved in proxy wars with Saudi Arabia for years.

"Iran is ready to work with regional states to preserve security in the Middle East," Rouhani said in a televised speech in the southern city of Bandar-e Gonaveh on February 17.

Rouhani went on to accuse the United States and Israel of seeking to “create division among Iranians” and said Iran “will not succumb to pressures from America and Israel.”

Arch-rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia back opposing sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump's move to pull the United States out of a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Iran has suggested it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries’ oil exports in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude.

Rouhani has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly one-third of all oil traded by sea.

A U.S. official, however, dismissed the threats, saying Tehran does not control the Strait of Hormuz, which is an international waterway.

The United States has repeatedly criticized Iran for its human rights abuses and says Iran is a major sponsor of terrorism.

Based on reporting by Reuters,