Iran has denied that its President, Hassan Rouhani, wrote an editorial for a German newspaper in which he said his country seeks to strengthen its ties with the West.
On Monday it was reported that Rouhani had written an op-ed in the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in which he was quoted as having written, “We want to rebuild and improve our relations to European and North American countries on a basis of mutual respect.”
“We are striving to avoid new burdens on relations between Iran and the United States and also to remove the tensions that we have inherited,” the Iranian president was quoted as having written in the editorial.
The website of the TIME magazine also noted that the same message was conveyed in a series of Twitter messages posted to an account associated with the Iranian president.
“We must now concentrate on the present and orientate ourselves towards the future,” read the messages. “We’ll never give up our right to #nuclear energy. But we’re working towards removing all doubts and answer all reasonable questions.”
Rouhani's senior advisor Mohammad Reza Sadeq later categorically rejected that Rouhani had even written the article, calling the reports that he did a “sheer lie.”
Sadeq said that such an editorial never existed.
“Irrespective of the content, Dr. Rouhani has not sent any note or piece of writing to this German publication and attributing this contribution to the Islamic Republic of Iranˈs President is a lie,” he told IRNA.
Shortly after taking office, Rouhani began working to smooth relations with the West. His efforts were rewarded when he received a telephone call from U.S. President Barack Obama in September, the first of its kind between an American and Iranian president in more than three decades.
More recently, Britain resumed its ties with Iran, two years after severing diplomatic relations due to a 2011 embassy attack.
This week, Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino arrived in Tehran for a rare visit, during which she met with Rouhani and with her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.