Image: President Elect Hassan Rouhani Holds His First Press Conference
Kaveh Kazemi / Getty Images Contributor

Andrea Mitchell   |  June 17, 2013

Iran’s new president on US relations: We must go forward

Following Hassan Rowhani’s first press conference, NBC’s Ali Arouzi was able to question Iran’s new president on diplomacy with the U.S. in which Rowhani hinted at possibly easing relations, saying “we mustn’t look back we must go forward as long as America respects Iran’s rights and doesn’t meddle in its internal affairs.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> iran this weekend after votes overwhelmingly chose hassan row wit hani, to replace the much edgier controversial mahmoud ahmadinejad . nbc's ali arouzi is in tehran where he just attended rohani's first press conference. what comes to mind immediately, is this election going to change anything, policy on critical issues of the nuclear program , the involvement in syria's civil war ?

>> well, andrea, it is a very tough question. right now we've just seen a softening in tone but we haven't seen a shift in policy. he's been a very soft spoken man. at the press conference today, i asked him if he was willing to engage directly with america and he laughed a little bit and said you're asking me a very tough question. but he made a very revealing sound bite . he said iran and america 's relationship is like the wound that hasn't healed yet and we mustn't look back. we must go forward, as long as iran respects -- america respects iran 's rights and doesn't meddle in its internal affairs . we haven't really heard that from an iranian president before. he touched on the nuclear issue saying he wants iran to be more transparent on the nuclear issue but ruled out stopping enrichment which is also very telling. we shouldn't be throwing our hands up in the air too early right now. head of the iaea today issued a statement saying that iran was making steady progress in the nuclear issue and sanctions haven't slowed it down. we have to see how much play mr. rowhani has exactly and we mustn't forget he's only the second-most powerful man in the country. he has to defer to the supreme leader who has the final say on all matters of state, foreign policy and the nuclear issue. but we are certainly seeing a much, much softer tone here, something we haven't really seen in the last eight years here, andrea.

>> this is all so interesting, but as you point out, it is too early for american negotiators and officials to break out the champagne because nothing will change unless the supreme leader decides that he wants to take a different tack. we should also point out that only a couple of weeks ago the u.s. again declared iran the most significant source of terror in the world according to the u.s. administration and went ahead and tightnd sanctions. so there is a lot of that wound that needs to be healed, is still breeding pretty profusely, to use their metaphor.