Iran seeks regional front against US ‘economic terrorism’

Updated December 09, 2018

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Parliament speakers from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pictured during the 2nd Speakers’ Conference on Saturday.—AFP
Parliament speakers from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pictured during the 2nd Speakers’ Conference on Saturday.—AFP

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said US sanctions were “economic terrorism”, as he sought to foster a united front from visiting regional officials on Saturday.

Addressing parliament speakers from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, Mr Rouhani said they had all suffered economic pressure from the US. “We are facing an all-out assault which is not only threatening our independence and identity but also is bent on breaking our longstanding ties,” he said.

Washington has re-imposed an oil embargo and other damaging sanctions on Iran since withdrawing in May from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.

“America’s unjust and illegal sanctions against the honourable nation of Iran have targeted our nation in a clear instance of terrorism,” Mr Rouhani said. “Economic terrorism is designed to create panic in the economy of a country and fear in other countries in order to prevent investment,” he added.

The conference in Tehran was a second annual meeting of parliament speakers focused on terrorism and regional cooperation. The first was held last December in Islamabad.

‘We are all punished’

US President Donald Trump has also cancelled hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, accusing it of failing to crack down on militancy.

“When they put pressure on China’s trade, we are all harmed... By punishing Turkey, we are all punished. Any time they threaten Russia, we too consider our security to be endangered,” Mr Rouhani said.

“When they impose sanctions on Iran, they deprive all of us of the benefits of international trade, energy security and sustainable development. And in fact, they impose sanctions on everyone,” he added.

“We are here to say that we don’t intend to tolerate such insolence,” said Mr Rouhani and warned Europe — which has strongly objected to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal — that much is at stake in its efforts to bypass US sanctions and maintain trade with Iran.

“They should know that by sanctioning Iran, they would harm our ability to fight drugs and terrorism,” Mr Rouhani said, referring to Iran’s efforts to combat smuggling, particularly from Afghan­istan.

Speakers express resolve to improve Pak-Iran ties

Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser met Speaker of Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran, Dr Ali Larijani, on the sidelines of the speakers’ conference in Tehran, adds our staff reporter.

According to a statement released by the National Assembly secretariat on Saturday, Mr Qaiser said Pakistan attached immense importance to its fraternal relations with Iran and wanted to further cement the existing relations through enhanced parliamentary cooperation between the legislatures of both the countries.

He said that vigorous Pak-Iran relations were imperative for peace, security and prosperity in the region. He underlined the need for enhancing cooperation between both the countries in diverse fields for mutual benefits.

Dr Larijani said that his country also considered Pakistan as one of its brothers and wanted to strengthen the existing bilateral relations through cooperation in diverse fields.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018