Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says world leaders have contacted him 13 times since March 2017 to encourage him to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Speaking during his visit to Iran's Gilan Province in the Caspian region, Rouhani said he has told the world leaders that the U.S. must return to the nuclear deal with Iran and make up for the past before he could sit down at a table with Trump, Entekhab news website, close to the Iranian administration, reported on Thursday March 7.
Rouhani reiterated: "We have shown that we are ready for negotiations, while we are not afraid of going to war."
Speaking in a defiant tone, Rouhani told local officials that in spite of hardships imposed by sanctions he has been opening various development and industrial projects all over Iran including the railways project in Gilan, which he opened during his visit. Meanwhile, he said once again that only a few countries support U.S. sanctions against Iran, while the United States' allies in Europe and elsewhere oppose the policy.
He said polls conducted in America show that 60 percent of Americans believe Trump's sanctions against Iran are wrong, however, he did not give further information about the poll and the number of people who took part in it.
The Iranian president has faced increasing pressure by hardliners who accuse his administration of being unable to ease the country's economic crisis. He is also being blamed for advocating negotiations with the U.S. on the nuclear issue, which they sat has brought no benefits.
In several speeches to government officials and gatherings in provincial cities Rouhani touched upon various domestic and international issues including Iran's relations with its neighbors.
Speaking about Iran's contribution to the region's security, Rouhani said, "We cannot be indifferent to what happens in our neighborhood. Without the Islamic Republic's support, Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdistan would have fallen into the clutches of ISIS."
Rouhani also expressed appreciation for "Iran's role in Syria's security," without mentioning the cost of intervention in Syria for the Iranian people. Thousands of Iranians have expressed their opposition to wasting Iranian resources in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere during massive protest demonstrations in Iran since December 2017.
Rouhani started his comments about the situation in Iran by acknowledging that "We have tough days ahead for this country, but resisting is all we can do."
"However, we are experts in negotiations," he said, adding, "We are not afraid of negotiating. We have a strong case to make. We have won cases against the U.S. at international tribunals, and we do not fear war, although in our struggle we sometimes win and sometimes don't win."
In the area of domestic politics, Rouhani summarized Iran's problems in two matters, a political and an economic problem: The absence of powerful political parties and the lack of a strong private sector.
Rouhani said that furthering democracy without political parties is extremely difficult and Iran needs at least two or three powerful political parties. Yet, he took pride in running a non-partisan administration, saying that people see the administration's successes as their own. He also criticized the existing political parties for being "seasonal entities" that are active only when there is an election.
Elsewhere, he said sanctions would have not been as effective as they are if Iran had a strong private sector that could handle the country's economy. "Iran's private sector is not strong enough to compete in the world market. And if we had a few private banks, we would have less worries in dealing with economic problems."
During the last year, several semi-private financial institutions failed toprotect or repay people's investment. Their failure led to protest demonstrations in various cities on a daily basis causing serious trouble for the government. In his speeches in Gilan, Rouhani accused the financial institutions of engineering the mobs in order to further milk the government.