DAVOS, Switzerland -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took center stage at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting on a day when his rival in the region, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is also due to speak.
Officially, Iran's top politician has arrived in Davos to hold out a hand to investors and senior oil industry executives, but he said Thursday in his address from the event's main podium that he was announcing a fresh program of "constructive engagement with the world" that hinges on boosting economic development with foreign partners.
He said that the key to achieving peace in the Middle East was linked to economic growth in a region he described as being, "engulfed in flames."
Rouhani also cautioned that the "U.S. must accept Iran's historical realities," which may be a veiled reference to the country's determination to pursue a nuclear program on its own terms.
"I strongly declare that nuclear weapons have no place in our security strategy," he said. "We have no plans in that direction," he said.
Rouhani, who is making his first trip to Europe since his election this past summer, said the dialogue at the Swiss mountain resort would help "to improve the world's management."
"No one (country) can live alone" and expect to solve the world's problems or "consider its dominance as permanent," Rouhani said.
He said he was elected with a mandate to pursue economic development and democracy.
Prior to his departure for the 44th annual gathering of many of the world's most influential and high-profile politicians and corporate bosses Rouhani told reporters: "Iran's presence in the Davos meeting will be very effective in expressing the Islamic Republic's views on economic issues as well as political, regional and international ideas."
It is unclear if Rouhani and Netanyahu will buck the expectation that a meeting between the two leaders won't take place at the summit where informal, but high-level, talks involving leaders of governments and the business community often occur in the shadows of the official program.
Rouhani did not directly address Israel in his speech.
In the past, Israel's hawkish leader has warned the West about Rouhani's intentions over a proposed nuclear deal, calling him a "wolf in sheep's clothing." On Wednesday, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, commenting to CNN in Davos, said that Washington has "overplayed" his nation's commitments to halt uranium enrichment above a 5% level and reduce its current stockpile of the material required for a nuclear program.
In a surprising diplomatic twist on Wednesday, the aircraft that delivered the two leaders to Switzerland were parked -- inadvertently air traffic controllers reportedly said -- side-by-side at Zurich airport. Traveling representatives from both parties greeted each other warmly.