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Rouhani says he will present 'true face of Iran' at UN

24 September, 2013

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DUBAI: President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday he would use his visit to the United Nations this week to present the 'true face of Iran' and to pursue talks and cooperation with the West to end Iran's nuclear dispute.

A moderate conservative elected in June, Rouhani was speaking shortly before a five-day trip Western powers hope will shed light on a nuclear programme they fear could yield nuclear arms. Iran has said it is pursuing peaceful ends, but recent, sometimes rancorous talks have served only to deepen suspicion.

"Unfortunately in recent years the face of Iran, a great and civilised nation, has been presented in another way," Rouhani said, according to comments published on his official website. "I and my colleagues will take the opportunity to present the true face of Iran as a cultured and peace-loving country,"

Rouhani did not make clear who he blames for any distortion of Iran's image. But the comments suggest he is intent on distancing himself from the controversial, outspoken approach to the West adopted by predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The United States and its allies have imposed increasing economic sanctions on Iran in recent years, partly a response to what the West regards as Tehran's failure to open its nuclear programme to international inspection. Ahmadinejad had also raised concern with comments on the Holocaust and homosexuality.

But Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator under reformist president Mohammad Khatami, also targeted the West over sanctions he said had resulted in suffering.

"On this trip, I will try to deliver the voice of the oppressed people of Iran to the world and we should say that sanctions are an illegal and unacceptable path," he told journalists before leaving, his official website reported.

"The West should opt for the path of talks and cooperation and consider mutual interests," he said. Rouhani has vowed to improve Iran's ailing economy, which has suffered deeply as a result of the embargoes.

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