Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says disagreements on the Korean Peninsula can best be addressed at the negotiating table.
President Rouhani made the remark during a Sunday meeting with Kim Yong-nam, who is the president of North Korea’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the Asian country’s unicameral legislature.
Rouhani hoped that negotiations would resume between the two Koreas and that peace and security would prevail in the entire Asia, particularly in its east.
The Korean Peninsula, located in Asia’s Far East, has for long been the scene of hostilities between South and North Koreas. The two countries fought a war in the 1950s. An armistice ended that war, but no peace deal ever ensued, meaning that, while the two Koreas are not at war with each other, they are not at peace, either.
Bitterness emanating from mutual fears of military aggression have been exacerbated by regular provocation from other countries, particularly the United States, which is firmly opposed to North Korean missile and military nuclear programs and has permanent military presence in the region.
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council passed sweeping bans against North Korea meant to slash the country’s exports’ revenue by a third. The sanctions were designed and proposed by the US.
President Rouhani told Kim in their Sunday meeting that all world nations had to be treated with respect and that any meddling in the internal affairs of countries was wrong.
Kim, who had traveled to Iran to attend Rouhani’s inauguration for a second term, congratulated the Iranian president for his reelection and said North Korea sought to expand relations with Iran in all fields, including economic, scientific, and technological areas.
Other world representatives meet Rouhani
Diplomatic traffic was especially heavy at the Iranian presidential office on Sunday. A day after being sworn into office on Saturday, President Rouhani held separate meetings with some of the visiting dignitaries from the over 100 countries who had traveled to Iran to participate in his inauguration.
Apart from Kim, the North Korean official, other senior officials who met with Rouhani on Sunday were representatives from Spain, Lebanon, Belarus, Armenia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Moldova, Cuba, China, and the African states of Ghana, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Tanzania.
‘Iran deal facilitated better economic ties’
In his meeting with Spain’s Senate Speaker Pío García-Escudero Márquez, Rouhani referred to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and a group of six other countries and said the accord eliminated obstacles in the way of economic relations between Iran and world countries.
He expressed satisfaction with the stand of European countries vis-à-vis attempts by the US to impede the smooth implementation of the deal.
He said Iran and Spain, as two friendly countries, had to receive the most benefits from the deal in the interests of their peoples.
García-Escudero said for his part that Spain supported Rouhani’s policies and would continue to cooperate with Iran.
‘Security in the Balkans matters to Iran’
The Iranian president also told President of the National Assembly of Serbia Maja Gojković that security in the Balkans was of importance to Iran.
He hoped for a strengthening of peace and stability in the Eastern European region.
Rouhani and Gojković expressed the mutual willingness of the Islamic Republic and Serbia to expand their ties.
Gojković also extended an official invitation from the Serbian president to Rouhani to pay a state visit to Serbia.
She also said that a visa waiver regime would soon take effect for Iranian citizens traveling to Serbia.
‘Independent countries should stand their ground’
The Iranian president also met with Cuban Vice President Ulises Rosales del Toro.
He told del Toro that while certain states attempted to pressure freedom-seeking countries with sanctions and embargoes, it was essential that those countries persevered with their struggle for independence.
Del Toro said Cuba stood in solidarity with Iran and was grateful for the Islamic Republic’s help during decades of US-imposed embargoes on the Caribbean nation.
‘Iran can’t be isolated’
Moldova’s President Igor Dodon was another dignitary to meet with President Rouhani on Sunday.
The two presidents described bilateral ties between Iran and Moldova as good but stressed that relations could be enhanced.
Dodon said the participation of officials from more than 100 world countries in Rouhani’s inauguration displayed the failure of attempts to isolate Iran.
“For sure, enemies cannot isolate the Iranian nation, [a nation] with thousands of years of history, and Iran will shine in the world after moving past difficulties,” the Moldovan president said.
Stressing bilateral ties, fight on terrorism
Rouhani also held one-on-one meetings with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, King Letsie III of Lesotho, Ghana’s First Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, Sri Lanka’s Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of Tanzania’s National Assembly Job Yustino Ndugai, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and He Lifeng, the chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
During those meetings, the two sides expressed a desire to enhance bilateral ties.
President Rouhani also told Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini that terrorism, currently plaguing parts of Africa, had to be prevented from spreading to other parts of the continent and had to be ultimately eradicated.
Sibusiso Dlamini said his country attached much importance to peace and security and was willing to cooperate and coordinate with the Islamic Republic in that area.