Rouhani says most Iranians want peace

President Hassan Rouhani says most Iranians want peace with the rest of the world (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare) (AFP/File)

Tehran (AFP) - An overwhelming majority of Iranians want peace with the rest of the world, President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday, defending the nuclear negotiations under way with major powers.

"Despite a small minority that speak loudly, the vast majority of the population are in favour of peace, reconciliation and constructive agreement with the world," Rouhani said during a televised speech in Shahriyar, west of Tehran.

Iran and the so-called P5+1 group (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany) have been engaged for nearly two years in negotiations on Tehran's nuclear programme to prevent the Islamic republic from getting the bomb, in exchange for the easing of international economic sanctions.

The two sides signed a framework agreement on April 2 and aim to finalise a deal by June 30.

The negotiations, approved by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have support within the country and among the Iranian political class.

But some conservatives have criticised the concessions made to the West.

"We are determined to solve our problems with the world through logic, reasoning and negotiation," Rouhani said, adding that "the strong nuclear negotiating team takes serious steps every day toward protecting the rights of the nation."

During a closed session in parliament on Sunday, ultraconservative lawmakers strongly criticised Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araghchi, who are leading the nuclear talks with major powers.

The lawmakers accused them of having accepted in principle military site inspections by foreign experts, which have been ruled out by Khamenei.

Araghchi later said the negotiating team had refused such inspections.