Rouhani: Iran extends hand of friendship to regional nations
Foreign forces raise 'insecurity' in Persian Gulf
President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday Iran will present a plan for creating security in the Persian Gulf in cooperation with other countries in the region when he attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.
“This year we will present a plan to the world at the United Nations that the Islamic Republic of Iran in cooperation with the countries of the region can create security for the Persian Gulf,” Rouhani, flanked by top military brass, said from a riser at an annual military parade in Tehran that marks the start of the week commemorating 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war known as the "sacred defense".
He said Iran's plan would focus on providing security in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman "with help from regional countries."
Rouhani is expected to travel to New York on Monday, a day before general debate kicks off at the UN General Assembly.
Hand of friendship
Rouhani said Iran is willing to "extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood" to Persian Gulf nations and is "even ready to ignore their past mistakes."
"In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbors, that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them," he said.
"We are even ready to ignore their past mistakes... since today the situation is such that the enemies of Islam and the region, meaning America and Zionism, want to abuse the rift between us," said Rouhani.
"Our logic is the logic of a Persian Gulf whose security comes from within."
Saudi Arabia and the United States allege Iran was behind the Sept. 14 attack on the world's largest oil processor in the kingdom and an oil field, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. While Yemen's Houthi movement claimed the assault, Saudi Arabia claims it was "unquestionably sponsored by Iran."
Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an "all-out war."
US President Donald Trump on Friday approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defenses after the attacks on Saudi oil sites.
"Those who want to link the region's incidents to the Islamic Republic of Iran are lying like their past lies that have been revealed," Rouhani said.
"If they are truthful and really seek security in the region, they must not send weapons, fighter jets, bombs and dangerous arms to the region."
Insecurity in Persian Gulf
Rouhani said the presence of foreign forces in the region would create insecurity for oil and shipping.
“We are not someone who will violate the borders of others just as we will not allow anyone to violate our borders,” Rouhani said.
He called on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations, criticizing a new US-led coalition patrolling the region's waterways.
"Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region," Rouhani said.
In his speech, the president urged the foreign powers to "stay away".
"If they're sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race," he said.
"Your presence has always brought pain and misery for the region. The farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be for our region."
Tensions between Iran and the US and its allies have threatened to boil over since May last year when Trump unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal and later began reimposing sanctions in a campaign of "maximum pressure".
The tensions escalated in the wake of devastating September 14 attacks on Saudi oil installations.
Saudi Arabia, which has been bogged down in a five-year war in Yemen, has warned of "appropriate measures" once the source of the strikes is confirmed by a UN investigation.
A Houthi plan for a cessation of hostilities announced on Friday has been welcomed by the UN, but Saudi Arabia was skeptical, saying it would "judge other parties by their deeds".
Following the attacks, Trump initially raised the possibility of a military response, tweeting that the US was "locked and loaded".
Washington later expanded its long list of sanctions against Tehran by further targeting its central bank and a development fund, as Trump indicated he did not plan to strike back.
The US deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the sensitive waterways near Iran, before sending B-52 bombers, an amphibious assault ship and Patriot missile battery.
Reuters, AP and AFP contributed to this story.