Leader Says Iran Wants to Repair Relations With U.S.

But vows never to give up right to nuclear energy

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Adrees Latif / Reuters

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani takes questions from journalists during a news conference in New York City on Sept. 27, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he wants to rebuild diplomatic relations with Western powers, even as he insists the country will “never never give up our right to nuclear energy.”

Rouhani’s comments, in an op-ed in a German newspaper on Monday and accompanying Twitter messages on an account associated with him, came during a Christmas break in talks over Iran’s nuclear program.

“We want to rebuild and improve our relations to European and North American countries on a basis of mutual respect,” Rouhani wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Reuters reports. “We are striving to avoid new burdens on relations between Iran and the United States and also to remove the tensions that we have inherited.”

“We must now concentrate on the present and orientate ourselves towards the future,” read the messages on a closely followed Twitter account that has never been verified as belonging to Rouhani but has broken news of his policy positions and actions before. “We’ll never give up our right to #nuclear energy. But we’re working towards removing all doubts and answer all reasonable questions.”

Rouhani helped spearhead the landmark negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program. The temporary deal reached last month allows for crippling economic sanctions on Iran to be lifted and the country to halt its nuclear program for six months while negotiators try to hash out a more permanent agreement. Diplomats announced on Sunday that Geneva talks would be suspended until after Christmas.