In an interview with US television, the Iranian President explained some of the misconceptions that have affected relations between the US and Iran, and said that Iranians do not bear enmity towards the American people.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told US television that the Iranian people do not bear ill will towards ordinary people in the US, and direct their ire towards the US government policies which are counter to their interests.
"Our people respect the American people. The Iranian people are not looking for war with any country," explained Rouhani.
"But at the same time the policies of the United States have been against the national interests of Iranian people. It's understandable that people will demonstrate sensitivity to this issue."
Rouhani said that the agreement on its nuclear program reached by Iran and the 5+1 group of countries is one of the first steps towards improving relations, but that it will take years to repair the damage caused by years of mistrust and conflict.
"When the people rose up against the shah, the United States aggressively supported the shah until the last moments. In the eight-year war with Iraq, the Americans supported Saddam. People will not forget these things. We cannot forget the past, but at the same time our gaze must be towards the future."
In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Hassan Rouhani attends an interview with the state-run TV in Tehran, Iran, on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014
In the interview with CBS News, Rouhani also sought to clarify some misconceptions about slogans reportedly chanted by Iranian demonstrators, such as "Death to America, Death to Israel," and descriptions of the US as the "great Satan," and explained that the translation of such concepts from Persian into English has led to misunderstanding.
"Satan in our religious parlance is used to refer to that power that tricks others and whose words are not clear words, do not match reality," said Rouhani.
"This slogan that is chanted is not a slogan against the American people."
The president also expressed hope that relations between the two countries will be improved by greater contact between ordinary people.
"Even tourism, if the people of the United States come to Iran and see its ancient history and nature of Iran, and the people of Iran go to the United States to see America, this can shorten the walls of mistrust and improve the situation for the future," said Rouhani.
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