Iran's president on Thursday pledged a sincere bid by his nation to reach a comprehensive deal on its disputed atomic activities, Bloomberg reports.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Hassan Rouhani described a "present and strong" desire in his government to develop a successor to an interim accord it negotiated in November with the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. The initial six-month agreement, which took effect this week, imposes short-term restrictions on Iran's nuclear efforts in return for limited relief from sanctions that have hit the nation's economy.
"One of the theoretical and practical pillars of my government is constructive engagement with the world," Rouhani said. "We will make use of active foreign policy to achieve economic development."
Obama administration officials expect multilateral talks on a follow-up accord to start no later than the middle of next month, the Associated Press reported, quoting U.S. legislative staffers briefed on Wednesday by administration personnel. Washington is now conferring with its partners on the anticipated negotiations, the legislative insiders said.
In Davos, Rouhani rejected U.S. and allied assertions that Iran's nuclear activities are geared toward development of a bomb capacity, and said his nation is being singled out unfairly.
"Iran has never desired a nuclear weapon in the past or one in the future. But we are not willing to give up our peaceful technology," he said in comments quoted in a forum press release. "Countries are allowed to engage in peaceful activity under supervision. Forty countries have dual-use of nuclear technology. Iran will not accept being discriminated against."
Speaking on Wednesday, Iran's top diplomat said "the White House ... underplays [Tehran's] concessions and overplays Iranian commitments" under the interim deal, CNN reported. "We did not agree to dismantle anything."
Still, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif -- also in Davos -- acknowledged that countries on both sides of the talks have faced domestic "oppositions and concerns and misgivings."