Rowhani says against violation of Iranians' privacy

Iran's moderate president-elect Hassan Rowhani on Wednesday cautioned the Islamic state against meddling in the private lives of its citizens, renewing his campaign promise of easing restrictions at home.

"A strong and capable government is not one that meddles, nor one that runs all affairs," Rowhani told a group of clerics in remarks broadcast on state television.

He argued that a government is not empowered through "restricting people's lives or intruding on their private lives," but through "bolstering their trust and consolidating social capital."

The remarks echoed his campaign promise of increasing media and personal freedoms in the Islamic republic, which helped him defeat conservative rivals on June 14 to succeed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In a June 5 televised debate, Rowhani criticised a campaign against banned satellite dishes, saying not only it was putting restrictions on Iranians from connecting to the outside world, but that it constituted "a violation of privacy."

He has also promised to mend Iran's tarnished ties with the international community, ease tensions over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and work to lift sanctions fuelling economic hardship in the Islamic republic.

On Wednesday, he extended an invitation to the clergy to cooperate in solving Iran's "many problems".

"There should not be a drift or friction between the government, the clergy and the people at a time when the people have placed their hope on change," said Rowhani, a mid-ranking cleric.

Then, he said, the government can move to "remove people's pain and problems, including economic ones".

Iran's economy is struggling under a barrage of international sanctions designed to force Tehran to cut back its nuclear activities, which Western powers and Israel suspect are aimed at military objectives.

Tehran has repeatedly denied this, saying the programme is intended solely for peaceful, civilian purposes.