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War unlikely ahead of ’20

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Rouhani said Wednesday that it will begin keeping its excess uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program, setting a 60-day deadline for new terms to its nuclear deal with world powers before it will resume higher uranium enrichment. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

TEHRAN, Feb 16, (AP): Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that he doesn’t believe the US will pursue war with his country, because it will harm President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection bid. Rouhani said that Trump knows that war with Iran will “ruin chances” his chances of winning the 2020 US presidential election.

The Iranian leader added that war would be harmful to US interests and those of its regional allies, as well as Iran. “I think the Americans aren’t after war since they know what harm it could do them,” said Rouhani in a news conference. He said that Arabian Gulf nations like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar stood a lot to lose if conflict between Iran and the US turns to war.

Tehran and Washington came close to an open conflict in January, when a US drone strike killed Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, outside Baghdad. Iran retaliated with missile strikes on a base housing US troops in Iraq.

Tensions have been escalating steadily since Trump pulled the US out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Rouhani reiterated that the US should rejoin the nuclear deal if it wants to return to negotiations. “We will finally get the enemy to sit at the negotiating table some day, like before,” said Rouhani, referring to the US. Rouhani also encouraged Iranians to turnout in large numbers for parliamentary elections on Friday, as a show of defiance against the US. “Americans will not be happy with a high-turnout,”he said.

“Surely they will be happy with a low-turnout election.” Diplomats from nations that lost citizens when Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner pushed Iran’s foreign minister Saturday for more cooperation from Tehran on the investigation and other issues.

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