Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made a concerted effort to reach out to Western powers during his trip the World Economic Forum this week, highlighting the Islamic Republic’s need for greater energy ties with Latin America – even broaching the topic of alleviating the country’s tense relations with the United States.
Speaking to a Swiss television outlet while in Davos, Rouhani said that said that it would be possible to turn around three decades of hostility between the U.S. and Iran if both sides were willing to make the effort. He added that Iran would even be willing to consider the idea of the U.S. reopening an embassy in the capital of Tehran.
"No animosity lasts eternally, no friendship either lasts eternally. So we have to transform animosities into friendship,” he said, according to Reuters.
Currently the Swiss Embassy in Tehran represents U.S. interests in the Middle Eastern nation.
Rouhani, who has attempted to ease international pressure that was heightened under his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that talks and compromise on both sides could help put the dicey past relations between Iran and the U.S. aside.
"This effort is necessary to create confidence on both sides, he said. “Iran is, in fact, stretching out its hand in peace and friendship to all countries of the world and wants friendly, good relations with all countries in the world."
U.S. President Barack Obama hailed earlier this month as an "important step" the announcement that a pact between the 5+1 Group – which includes the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and Germany – and Iran will go into effect on Jan. 20, and promised "modest relief" of the current sanctions on Tehran if the Iranians keep their commitments under that pact, which was reached last November.
This is the "first time in a decade" that Iran has agreed to suspend work on its nuclear program, said Obama, adding that the agreement will help ensure that the nation does not build a nuclear weapon.
The main focus of Rouhani’s trip to Davos was to woo foreign investors to Iran, which has a market of around 76 million people and some of the largest gas and oil reserves in the world.
Earlier in the week the chief of the Iran-Mexico Parliamentary Friendship Group met with the head of the Mexican Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Gabriela Cuevas Barron, in Tehran to discuss the expansion of energy ties between the two nations and in other parts of Latin America.
For its part, Mexico appears open to the idea of growing its relationship with Iran, despite the country’s poor relations with Mexico’s closest ally, the U.S.
“The two countries’ abundant capacities in energy sector and automotive industry should be given due attention to help promote bilateral cooperation,” Cuevas Barron said after Monday’s meeting, according to Iranian media.
In recent years, Iran has made headway in Latin America, thanks to anti-U.S. leaders in countries like Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Reports have also surfaced that Tehran is funding terrorist cells operating in the region, but hard evidence on that has yet to surface.
Iran even launched a Spanish language television station in 2011 in what it describes as an effort to reinforce cultural ties with Spanish-speaking nations and help introduce Iranian traditions to Latin America.