Ali Younesi, President Hassan Rouhani’s adviser on Ethnic and Religious Minorities affairs, has issued a clarification about his comments suggesting a union between regional countries. His words had sparked criticism from the Arab-language media, which construed them as reviving Iran’s ancient empire. A former Iranian vice president who was at the conference also spoke out against Younesi's comments.
Younesi accused Iran’s enemies of creating propaganda by misconstruing his comments at a March 8 conference on Iranian history and culture, saying that he was simply talking about a “historical and cultural unity” between certain countries in the region, including Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. He said that his proposal was for a “union” and “does not mean an empire should be reborn,” but rather that the neighbors should cooperate to confront mutual threats. He added that Iran’s official position is that “it respects the national boundaries and territorial integrity of other countries.”