'Your Presence Has Always Been a Calamity': Iranian President Demands US Get Out of Persian Gulf

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that the only way to move toward lasting peace in the Middle East is for the United States and other Western powers to immediately leave the Persian Gulf, a call that comes days after the Trump administration announced the deployment of more troops to Saudi Arabia.

“Your presence has always been a calamity for this region, and the farther you go from our region and our nations, the more security would come for our region,” Rouhani said in a speech during a rally on Sunday.

Rouhani also accused the U.S. and other nations of falsely blaming Iran for a recent attack on Saudi oil facilities, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called “an act of war.”

“Those who want to link the region’s incidents to the Islamic Republic of Iran are lying like their past lies that have been revealed,” said Rouhani. “If they are truthful and really seek security in the region, they must not send weapons, fighter jets, bombs, and dangerous arms to the region.”

To counter the U.S.-led “maritime coalition” purportedly formed to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf in the wake of tanker attacks—which the Trump administration also blamed on Iran on the basis of flimsy evidence—Rouhani said he will unveil a regional peace initiative titled the Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) at a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York this week.

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“All countries of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz and the United Nations are invited to join,” Rouhani said Monday before departing for New York.