Wed May 3, 2017 6:4AM
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his deputy Es’haq Jahangiri are seen during a cabinet meeting. (Photo by IRNA)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his deputy Es’haq Jahangiri are seen during a cabinet meeting. (Photo by IRNA)

Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and his deputy Es’haq Jahangiri, both presidential candidates, explain their future plans to deal with such issues as terrorism, tourism and economy as they defend their past performance in office.

Addressing Iranian expatriates in a televised program on Wednesday, Rouhani said the country would not let in “the virus of terrorism,” emphasizing the need to ensure national unity and ethnic amity as a means of deterring terror threats.

Stronger national unity, he said, translates into stronger national security, adding that treating various ethnic groups with dignity would also avert infiltration by terrorists.  

The Iranian chief executive said poverty and ignorance also provide a breeding ground for terrorism.

The Islamic Republic, however, is enjoying “exemplary” security thanks to the vigilance of its people and security forces and under the auspices of national integrity, Rouhani noted.

While ensuring security inside its borders, Iran has also contributed to security in many countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen, he stated.

Rouhani said Iran is duty-bound to fight terror, and is ready, if possible, to help enhance security in countries as far away as China and even European countries.

The Iranian president further highlighted the significance of the Palestinian cause, reiterating that the terrorism waged by such brutal outfits as al-Qaeda and Daesh has either consigned the issue of Palestine to oblivion or sidelined it.

“We should not let terrorism continue its course in the region," he said, adding the Iranian government sees it as its responsibility to take whatever measure in its power to confront the phenomenon.

On a separate note, the Iranian chief executive said the number of foreign tourists visiting the country had increased by 12 percent under his administration.

He said cyberspace was now in the service of the tourism industry, noting that much of the total handicraft sales was now taking place using the Internet and social networks.

First Vice President Jahangiri likewise took on the issue of tourism on Tuesday, saying the country has everything it would take to turn up among the 10 countries attracting most tourists worldwide.

“We should move towards attracting foreign tourists, especially cultural tourists, who would visit the country for the purpose of pilgrimage. These can bring home billions of dollars in cash, contribute to the economy and create employment,” he said.

Iran, he said, should reach a point where the value of its exports would exceed 50 billion dollars. To achieve this, the country had to enter the international markets “with an active diplomacy,” the official asserted.

The electorate will go to the polls on May 19.

Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, member of Iran’s Expediency Council Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim, Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, the current custodian of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) in the northeastern city of Mashhad, and former vice president Mostafa Hashemi-Taba are also contesting the race.