Senior Iranian official slams Ahmadinejad's comments on Israel
A top Iranian cleric on Wednesday criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's verbal attacks on Israel, saying a foreign policy of "coarse slogans" was not in the national interest. Hassan Rowhani, a former top nuclear negotiator who still holds several influential positions, said Tehran needed to show more flexibility and desire for dialogue in its dealings with the international community.
"Does foreign policy mean expressing coarse slogans and grandstanding?" Rowhani asked in a speech to a foreign policy conference in Tehran. "This is not a foreign policy. We need to find an accommodating way to decrease the threats and assure the interests of the country."
According to AFP, Rowhani warned: "If the international community thinks that a country wants to play troublemaker and eliminate others, it will not let the country do this and will confront it.
"We must act in such a way that the world understands that we are ready for more flexibility and more dialogue."
Rowhani headed the nuclear negotiating team that served under former president Mohammad Khatami before Ahmadinejad took power in 2005. He still holds a string of important positions, including membership of the elite clerical body the Assembly of Experts, and is a representative of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Iran's supreme national security council.
"Someone can respect another person because he has a knife in his hands. But this is very different from respecting someone due to his knowledge, ethics and ability," Rowhani added in the speech.