Iran’s president calls for ‘constructive’ dialogue, end to ‘unhealthy’ rivalries

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Iran (CNN) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made his case Thursday to the American people and the world for “a constructive approach” to contentious issues including his nation’s nuclear program, arguing that failing to engage “leads to everyone’s loss.”

“We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart,” Rouhani said in an op-ed published Thursday evening on the Washington Post’s website.

It’s not the first time a leader from a country often at podds with the United States has used its newspapers to convey his or her views. Just last week, for instance, Russian President Vladimir Putin argued against international military intervention in Syria and jabbed his U.S. counterpart for saying Americans should consider themselves “exceptional” — a remark that quickly elicited derision from across the U.S. political spectrum.

But Rouhani’s tone differed from Putin’s, echoing the theme of “prudence and hope” and the promise of more positive engagement with the rest of the world that helped propel him to an election win in June.

“To move beyond impasses, … we need to aim higher,” he said. “Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better.”

Contending “the age of blood feuds” and the idea of diplomacy as a “zero-sum game” no longer apply in a “changed” world, Rouhani said leaders should engage each other “on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect.”

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