Iranian president says it’s premature to talk normalizing ties with U.S.

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on American television that it was premature to discuss normalizing U.S.-Iran relations.

“The enmity that existed between the United States and Iran over the decades, the distance, the disagreements, the lack of trust, will not go away soon,” Rouhani said in an interview with the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” a rare direct encounter with the U.S. media.

“What’s important is which direction we are heading? Are we heading towards amplifying the enmity or decreasing this enmity? I believe we have taken the first steps towards decreasing this enmity.”

Iran reached a sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal in July with the United States and five other world powers. The implementation formally begins in October, but sanctions will not be lifted until Iran puts in place required nuclear restrictions.

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Rouhani said Iranian hostility to the United States, expressed through chants of “Death to America” at rallies, would likely not abate until the sanctions are lifted.

“If America puts the enmity aside, if it initiates good will, and if it compensates for the past, the future situation between the United States and Iran will change,” Rouhani said. The deal “hasn’t been implemented yet … the lifting of the sanctions must be initiated.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the deal, as does the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Republican Party. One of the concerns is that the deal would lead to U.S.-Iran normalization without moderating its hostile posture toward Israel.

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