Iran’s Rouhani vows to watch US closely, but won’t start conflict

Rouhani made the remarks during a phone call to Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. (Reuters pic)

DUBAI: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that Tehran was closely following US activities, but would never initiate a conflict in the region.

Rouhani’s comments, which come at a time of rising tension between Washington and Tehran, were made during a telephone call to Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Iranian state media reported.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran follows America’s activities and movements closely, but it will never be the one that starts conflict and tension in the region,” Rouhani was quoted as saying during the call, held due to the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had instructed the US Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea.

Earlier this month, the US military said 11 Revolutionary Guards naval vessels came close to US Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves “dangerous and provocative”.