Rouhani: We Can be Friends with the Americans

Iranian President says the enmity with the United States can turn into friendship if both sides make an effort.

Elad Benari,

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that it was possible to turn more than three decades of enmity with the United States into friendship if both sides made an effort, Reuters reports.

The Iranian President made the comments in an interview  with Swiss television after arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos where he will court the global business community and meet a series of oil company executives.

"No animosity lasts eternally, no friendship either lasts eternally. So we have to transform animosities into friendship," Rouhani told RTS television when asked whether there could one day be an American embassy again in Tehran instead of the Swiss embassy representing U.S. interests in Iran.

In the interview, in which Rouhani spoke in Farsi voiced over into French, he said relations with Washington had been difficult in the past but with hard work and efforts by both sides, problems could be overcome.

"This effort is necessary to create confidence on both sides. 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," the president said, according to Reuters.

Rouhani will give a short speech on Thursday to chief executives from oil majors such as Eni, BP, Total and Shell, according to several executives who meet in Davos.

Tehran wants Western oil companies to revive its giant ageing oilfields and develop new oil and gas fields once sanctions are lifted and is improving its oil investment contract in order to lure them in.

Rouhani’s trip to Davos comes several days after the implementation of the nuclear agreement reached between his country and six world powers began. The United States has already formally lifted select sanctions on Iran, claiming Iran is taking step to curb back its nuclear program.

As part of the implementation of the new deal, Iran will receive the first $550 million installment of a total of $4.2 billion in previously blocked overseas funds on or about February 1.

Rouhani has been seen as successfully redirecting pressure on Iran towards Israel, with experts saying he has turned the tables and isolated Israel in a matter of months through his "charm offensive."

Last week Rouhani gloated on Twitter "In Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation's will."