TEHRAN – The Dutch and Spanish foreign ministers who made separate visits to Tehran on Wednesday held talks with top Iranian officials including President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Supreme National Security Secretary Ali Shamkhani and Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign Policy advisor to the Leader.
In the meetings, Rouhani called for cooperation in areas of environment, economy, science, banking, agriculture, transport, energy saving, etc. The president also insisted on the need to protect the nuclear deal. In the meetings, Rouhani also said Tehran welcomes closer cooperation with the European Union including the Netherlands and Spain.
Rouhani also talked about the need to fight terrorism and called for efforts to bring the Saudi-led war against Yemen to an end.
Rouhani criticizes commotion over Iran’s missile program
In the meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag, Rouhani criticized “purposeful commotion” created over Iran’s missile program by certain countries, saying the Iranian nation’s mind is fresh with the “bitter” memories of Saddam Hussein’s missile attacks on Iranian cities in the 1980s and they believe that the country’s defense capability must not be open to negotiation.
Rouhani said while Saddam was targeting Iranian civilian targets with missiles, other countries refused to sell missiles to Iran to defend its people.
“Our people with this bitter historical experience and the national security of their country are sensitive to the raising of any issue in this regard and rightly believe that the country’s defense capability is not negotiable,” Rouhani insisted.
For her part, FM Kaag pointed to Iran’s missile program and said her country “recognizes” Iran’s “legitimate” weapons program for defensive purposes.
Rouhani: Mideast must not be turned into ‘arms depot’
In the meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis, Rouhani criticized certain Western countries for selling sophisticated weapons to certain Arab countries in the region.
“All the countries should be committed to avoid turning the region into arms depot,” Rouhani noted. Rouhani said all should prevent an “arms race” in the region.
Spanish FM: EU fully backs nuclear deal
For his part, the Spanish foreign minister said the EU fully supports the JCPOA, the official name for the nuclear agreement.
“Increasing ties with Iran is important for Spain and other European Union members, and through the survival and duration of the JCPOA we can strengthen ties,” Dastis said.
The Dutch foreign minister also said that the EU is determined to expand ties with Iran.
Rouhani reprimands sale of ‘destructive weapons’ to regional states
Also in the talks with the Dutch foreign minister, Rouhani said Tehran is willing to talk with its “friends” in Europe about the massive sale of “destructive weapons” to regional countries mainly by Western states.
Iran has been a vocal critic of the Saudi-led war against Yemen. The U.S. and Britain are the main arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia.
The president said the sale of “deadly fighter jets and missiles” to regional countries have killed and displaced Yemeni people and destroyed the country’s residential buildings and infrastructure.
Elsewhere, he said it is necessary to end war in Yemen and lay the grounds for inter-Yemeni dialogue.
“Iran supports any effort in this respect and is ready to hold talks with the European Union to boost regional security and stability and continue fighting terrorism,” Rouhani said.
The chief Dutch diplomat also said the Netherlands is seeking for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen and resolving the conflict through national dialogue.
‘Nothing can be added or reduced from nuclear deal’
Commenting on the 2015 nuclear deal which has come under heavy attack by U.S. President Donald Trump, Rouhani said, “Nothing can be added to the agreement or reduced from it.”
Trump has said if the nuclear deal is not revised he will withdraw the U.S. from it.
He added, “The Islamic Republic of Iran will make any effort to protect the deal as long as the other sides remain committed to their obligations.” He also said, “Definitely, Iran will not be first to violate the deal.”