TEHRAN, Iran Iran's newly-elected president said Monday he would follow a "path of moderation," and urged his country not to be held back by past policies, emphasizing messages from Western leaders since his victory that have brought hope of new openings with Tehran.
Speaking Monday at his first news conference since his victory in Friday's election, Hasan Rowhani said his victory would herald a "new era," and vowed to "follow the path of moderation and justice, not extremism."
Rowhani decried international sanctions against Iran -- put in place over Tehran's nuclear program -- saying the Iranian people did nothing to deserve sanctions he characterized as "brutal" to his people and "detrimental" to the West as well.
He said that he hoped steps could be taken to alleviate the crushing economic sanctions on his country.
"First, taking steps toward transparency [in our] nuclear programs, make it clear to the whole world that measures and activities of Iran are within international regulations and mechanisms," said the president-elect.
He called for "mutual trust between Iran and other countries," suggesting Iran would "try to win back that trust."
Rowhani said the solution to easing the sanctions was, "mutual respect and transparency within international law" by both sides in the dispute.
"Both sides will take steps and, God willing, reduce sanctions, alleviate them, and eventually remove them all," he said.
Addressing the Iranian government's fraught relations with Washington specifically, Rowhani said there was "nothing easy about it," calling it a "very old wound that is there; we need to heal this injury."
But when speaking of the conditions necessary for alleviating tensions, Rowhani added that American leaders, "need to say that they will never interfere with the domestic affairs of Iran. Nuclear wishes of Iran need to be recognized by Americans."
He also called on Washington to end the "bullying" policies of unilateral sanctions.
And he made it clear that Iran was not about to back down entirely on its hallmark insistence that nuclear energy production is the right of any nation: "Everyone should realize the fact that the future government will defend the rights of the Iranian nation, we will never dispense with that."
Iran's president does not have the power to set policies for the Islamic Republic -- that power is held exclusively by the ruling clerics, with the ultimate veto power wielded entirely by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation's Supreme Leader. But Rowhani's statements heralding a new moderate approach have been cautiously greeted by the U.S. and allies as a possible opportunity to ease tensions.