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Iran president woos world elite, aiming to end isolation

Eric Piermont / AFP - Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a pitch toward ending years of international isolation Thursday, claiming the spotlight at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Rouhani appeared to support American calls for free and fair elections in Syria, saying “all should accept” the results, and said Iran is ready to do business and cooperate on global issues.

“The best solution is to organize free and fair elections inside Syria,” he told delegates at forum, an annual gathering of the world's most power movers and shakers. “No outside parties or power can decide for the Syrian people and Syria as a country. We should all come together to help the people.

“Everyone should work together to create conducive conditions leading to free and fair elections and whatever will come out of this, all should accept,” he added.

Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon rescinded an offer for Iran to attend Syria peace negotiations currently taking place in Geneva after Tehran said it didn't support the June 2012 political transition deal that is the basis for the talks. 

Rouhani did not mention this in his wide-ranging speech to business leaders and politicians at the Swiss Alpine resort, but he called the recent engagement between Iran and the U.S “a major development.”

However, he called the international community’s position on Iran’s development of nuclear technology over the last decade, “illogical and incorrect.”   

“Iran, in pursuing its nuclear energy has never sought, nor seeks anything other than peaceful applications of this technology and will not accept any obstacles on the way of its scientific progress,” he said.

“Intensifying sanctions,” he added in the speech that was also published on his official English language twitter feed, “will have no results except direct and indirect costs for all parties.”

An opening for solving this crisis now exists that will create a comprehensive arrangement rather than a temporary one, he insisted.

Iran also hoped to open up trade negotiations with both their near neighbors and Europe, he said.