ANKARA (Reuters) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday the nuclear deal reached between Tehran and major world powers this month will help fight terrorism and bloodshed in the Middle East, Iran’s state TV reported.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also cited wider effects of the deal, saying Tehran and the European Union could now discuss questions “including energy cooperation ... human rights, confronting terrorism and regional issues”.
The Iranian leaders spoke during a one-day visit by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to Tehran to discuss implementation of the deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for lifting economic sanctions imposed on the country.
World powers suspected Iran’s nuclear program aimed to build a nuclear bomb, which Iran denied. Tehran reached the deal on July 14 with the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany after a standoff lasting more than a decade.
“The agreement will be very important and influential for the future of relations in the region, Europe and the world,” Rouhani told Mogherini. “It will help the fight against terrorism and stop war and bloodshed in the region.”
At a joint news conference with Mogherini, Zarif said they had agreed to hold high-level EU-Iran talks on a wide range of issues including fighting terrorism, state television reported.
After the terms of the agreement were settled, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran would not end its support for regional allies, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, Syria’s government and Shi’ites in Bahrain and Yemen.
The United States designates Iran and Syria as “state sponsors of terrorism” and Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization.”
Mogherini said implementation of the agreement “depends on the political will, commitment and patience of all parties involved ... The deal has the capacity to pave the ground for wider cooperation between Iran and the West.”
“Regional and international cooperation with Iran is very important for us,” she added.
Rouhani stressed Iran’s commitment to its promises “as required by its cultural, religious and national principles”.
Writing on the op-ed page of Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Mogherini said EU foreign ministers had tasked her with exploring “ways in which the EU could actively promote a more cooperative regional framework” in the wake of the Vienna deal.
“The whole Middle East is in turmoil. Sectarianism is on the rise. We need to restart political processes to end wars. We need to get all regional powers back to the negotiating table and stop the carnage,” she wrote.
“Cooperation between Iran, its neighbors and the whole international community could open unprecedented possibilities of peace for the region, starting from Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
On Monday, Mogherini met Saudi officials to try to calm the concerns of Iran’s arch-rival over the agreement. The Sunni Muslim kingdom and its Gulf Arab allies accuse Tehran of meddling in Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
They suspect the agreement will give Iran more leeway to back allies in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria by freeing Shi’ite Muslim Iran from international pressure and sanctions.
Riyadh accused Iran on Monday of harboring hostile designs against its regional neighbors. Bahrain’s state news agency reported on Tuesday the explosives used in a bombing that killed two policemen were similar to those recently seized by security forces after allegedly being smuggled from Iran.
Iran has repeatedly denied interfering in the internal matters of its neighbors, saying such claims are aimed at preventing cooperation between Iran and the region.
Iranian media said Mogherini would press for a political solution to the Yemeni conflict, where Saudi-led air strikes have pounded Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houthi rebels.
“Instead of confrontation and rivalry in the region, cooperation will be for the benefit of everyone,” Mogherini told the news conference.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Tom Heneghan