DAVOS, Switzerland — Describing himself as an advocate of “prudent moderation” as he pursued a diplomatic offensive to remold his country’s image on Thursday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said he sought “constructive engagement” with its neighbors and pledged that his country had no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons.
He was speaking in this Alpine village at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum while, elsewhere in Switzerland, international negotiators sought to persuade Syrian government representatives and their exiled adversaries to sit down face-to-face at peace talks seeking an end to Syria’s nearly three-year civil war. Iran is a key player in the region’s diplomacy and the principal regional ally of President Bashar al-Assad.
Mr. Rouhani referred to recent cooperation with the United States and other powers on his country’s nuclear program as a “major development” and urged American leaders to accept his country’s Islamic revolution as the culmination of a century of struggle for freedom.
“I strongly and clearly state that nuclear weapons have no place in our security strategy and Iran has no motivation to move in that direction,” he said.
Mr. Rouhani was elected as Iran’s president last year, seeking to offer a friendlier and more pragmatic vision of his country’s relationship with the West. Since then, Iran has reached an interim agreement with world powers on suspending nuclear enrichment in return for an easing of sanctions – a deal that began to take effect on Monday.
Last Sunday, in what appeared to be a diplomatic success for Tehran, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, invited Iran to attend the Syria talks but withdrew the offer a day later after Iranian officials denied that they had agreed to preconditions for their attendance.
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