Iran’s president: Trump doesn’t want war ahead of 2020 vote

Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani gives a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) —

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that he doesn’t believe the U.S. will pursue war with his country, because it will harm President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.

Rouhani said that Trump knows that war with Iran will “ruin” his chances of winning the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The Iranian leader added that war would be harmful to U.S. interests and those of its regional allies, as well as Iran.

“I think the Americans aren’t after war since they know what harm it could do them,” said Rouhani in a news conference.

He said that Persian Gulf nations like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar stood a lot to lose if conflict between Iran and the U.S. turns to war.

Tehran and Washington came close to an open conflict in January, when a U.S. drone strike killed Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, outside Baghdad. Iran retaliated with missile strikes on a base housing U.S. troops in Iraq.

Tensions have been escalating steadily since Trump pulled the U.S. out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.

Rouhani reiterated that the U.S. should rejoin the nuclear deal if it wants to return to negotiations.

“We will finally get the enemy to sit at the negotiating table some day, like before,” said Rouhani, referring to the U.S.

Rouhani also encouraged Iranians to turnout in large numbers for parliamentary elections on Friday, as a show of defiance against the U.S.

“Americans will not be happy with a high-turnout,”he said. “Surely they will be happy with a low-turnout election.”

Iran’s parliamentary elections are seen as a test of the popularity of Rouhani’s relatively moderate and pro-reform bloc led. His government, however, has mostly struggled to deliver on campaign promises to improve people’s lives as Iran’s economy buckles under the weight of U.S. sanctions.

Iranian authorities have also barred thousands of parliamentary candidates from running, mainly reformists and moderates.

Friday’s elections could strengthen the hand of Iranian hard-liners, who champion confronting the West.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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