Written by By Staff Writer
(CNN) — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Brazil, India and Russia comes with a whirlwind tour of Latin America, as Tehran looks to broaden its ties beyond the politically bruising relationship with the United States.
Rouhani started his tour in Brazil on Sunday, where he was met by a rapturous welcome, celebrating his nation’s diplomatic opening under his presidency, and his efforts to reconcile ties with the United States and Israel, the Iranian President said at the start of his two-day visit.
The talks centered on Iran’s energy industry and the mechanisms needed to facilitate investment into Iran’s economy, which last year grew at a rate of 4.9%, well below what it has shown in past years. Brazilian President Michel Temer, in his invitation to Rouhani to come to Brazil, said Tehran’s fast growing economy was a focus of his government.
Back in Iran, Iran’s Sepahnews quoted the President in full.
“Greater engagement in Brazil, India and Russia is of strategic importance for Iran,” Rouhani said. “All of this, along with strengthened economic ties, is an essential part of Iran’s policies of co-operation with the international community.”
From the December nuclear deal to regional rapprochement, President Rouhani has fired up his nation with the kind of confident rhetoric that earned him praise during his run for re-election. Even as the Trump administration comes under withering criticism for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposing sanctions on the country, Rouhani has been unapologetic of the deal and refuses to sign up to the right-wing hardliners’ rigid and self-serving vision of international relations.
He even welcomed the unfolding of policy that, as he said at the summit in Davos last year, “is the rule of law, not the rule of men.”
President Hassan Rouhani during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Tehran. Credit: Khamenei.ir
As he addressed the 120 heads of state and 50 foreign ministers gathered at this year’s United Nations Summit, Rouhani was criticized by key world leaders from Israel, and the United States’ allies in the region, many of whom accuse him of stirring up the Middle East with his rapprochement efforts.
With these tensions, in which the world powers are up against Iran and their supporters, it is not surprising that the visit comes on the heels of so much turbulence and with so many changes.
It is in Brazil, India and Russia where the effects of the Iran nuclear deal will be felt the most. How the realities of this last year of nuclear negotiations in 2015 and 2018 hold up for the world as a whole may depend on how Iran’s partnership with Washington interacts with how India and Russia see their role in the region.
The Iranian and Indian partnerships with China, which has led to increased Chinese investment, has weakened countries like India who are relying on Iran for their energy needs, as well as the country that has risen the most — China.
President Rouhani’s administration, while putting Iran back on the world’s diplomatic map, will be tested when the ‘new’ sanctions begin to bite.