SEPTEMBER 17, 2014 — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today told NBC News that ISIS terrorists “want to kill humanity.” Rouhani sat down with Ann Curry at the presidential palace in Tehran on Wednesday for an exclusive, wide-ranging conversation in which he offered harsh criticism of ISIS, President Obama, and the US-led coalition against the terror group, which he denounced as “ridiculous.” President Rouhani is scheduled to visit the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.
Additional excerpts will appear across the platforms of NBC News beginning tonight on “NBC Nightly News” and tomorrow on “TODAY.” The full interview will be available on NBCNews.com.
The exclusive sit-down comes a year after Curry became the first American journalist to interview Rouhani following his election, ahead of a thawing in U.S.-Iranian relations that paved the way for talks about Tehran’s tentative nuclear deal.
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Iran’s Rouhani Blasts ISIS and ‘Ridiculous’ U.S.-Led Coalition
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry, denounced ISIS for its savagery but also branded the U.S.-led coalition against the terror group as “ridiculous.” Speaking from the presidential palace in Tehran ahead of his visit to the United Nations, Rouhani questioned President Obama’s decision to go after ISIS with airstrikes.
“Are Americans afraid of getting casualties on the ground in Iraq?” he asked. “Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?”
“Maybe it is necessary for airstrikes in some conditions and some circumstances,” he added. “However, air strikes should take place with the permission of the people of that country and the government of that country.”
Asked about the extremists’ beheading of American James Foley and Steven Sotloff and Briton David Haines, Rouhani said ISIS’ actions are at odds with Islamic tenets.
This is a developing story. Check back with NBCNews.com for updates and watch NBC Nightly News at 6:30 p.m. ET for more.
“They want to kill humanity,” he said. “And from the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity. And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it’s the matter of concern and sorrow for all the human and all the mankind.”
But he also took issue with the American-led coalition, saying members include nations that helped ISIS with weapons and training. He declined to name the countries.
He said Iran will give Iraq any support it requests for combating ISIS, but made a point of saying religious sites must be protected.
“When we say the red line we mean the red line,” Rouhani said. “It means we will not allow Baghdad to be occupied by the terrorists or the religious sites such as Karbala or Najaf be occupied by the terrorists.”
Rouhani sat down with Curry a year after she became the first American journalist to interview him following his election — ahead of a thawing in U.S.-Iranian relations that paved the way for talks with the West about Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. He is scheduled to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.
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