Rouhani said that Iran would continue “peace-seeking efforts in the region” after having signed a deal on its nuclear program.
Iran’s Mission to the United Nations said Rouhani was cancelling events on Tuesday and would return to Tehran after addressing the U.N. gathering because of “the tragic events” at the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca.
Rouhani held up the agreement as a model for other conflicts in the Middle East, saying that governments should go beyond their unresolved differences to focus on what he described as the top priority – “eradication of terrorism” across the region.
The additional passages also jar in tone with the thrust of much of the speech, in which Rouhani repeatedly reaches out to the global community, proclaims the start of a “new era” and a “new chapter” in Iran’s relations with the world, and calls for greater worldwide cooperation.
His statements came only moments after U.S. President Barack Obama accused Iran of continuing to use “violent proxies to advance its interests” in the Middle East.
The Iranian president was to cut short his visit to New York and return to Tehran after his address to attend a repatriation ceremony for the bodies of the victims.
Rouhani said the USA approach, which he characterized as the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and support for “the Zionist regime” – Israel – gives terrorists “justification for their actions”.
Though they agree on the importance of defeating the Islamic State group in Syria, also known as ISIS or ISIL, the US has insisted Syrian President Bashar Assad’s removal from power is necessary to a peaceful transition of power in Syria, Iran has said Assad is crucial to the fight against ISIS.
He said Russian Federation had invested in the Assad reigime, but that president Putin should be persuaded to think again.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, asked by reporters about Rouhani’s remarks, said he has “yet to hear directly” from Iran about the idea.
Rouhani added that “nothing would make me happier” than to help someone in prison, echoing comments he made to journalists, including representatives from the Washington Post, earlier this weekend.
Those who violated the sanctions “tried to do something which they won’t be punished for now”, Rouhani noted.
The U.S. is now holding a few 19 Iranian citizens, all on charges of having violated the anti-Iran sanctions in a few form.