Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said yesterday he will not allow nuclear negotiations for the sake of negotiations, in his first news conference since winning election last week.
Raisi also ruled out meeting US President Joe Biden but said there were “no obstacles” to resuming diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.
Raisi, 60, won Friday’s election in which more than half the voters stayed away after many political heavyweights had been barred from running and as an economic crisis driven by US sanctions has battered the country.
Raisi, an ultraconservative cleric who heads Iran’s judiciary, will replace moderate President Hassan Rouhani — whose landmark achievement was a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers — in August.
“Any negotiations that guarantee national interests will certainly be supported, but...we will not allow negotiations to be for negotiations’ sake,” Raisi said of the nuclear talks.
“Any meeting must produce a result...for the Iranian nation,” he added.
The 2015 deal saw Iran accept curbs on its nuclear capabilities in return for an easing of sanctions, but former US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew three years later and ramped up sanctions, prompting the Islamic republic to pull back from its nuclear commitments.
Trump’s successor Biden has signalled his readiness to return to the deal and state parties — also including Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — have lately been negotiating its revival in Vienna.
The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said Sunday that there was “no reason to believe” that Raisi’s government would take “a different position” in the talks than its predecessor.
An austere figure from the clerical establishment, Raisi smiled and raised his hands as he arrived for yesterday’s press conference.
When asked by a Russian media outlet whether he would meet Biden and try to “fix” issues between them in the event the nuclear talks lead to the US lifting sanctions on Iran, he replied, flatly: “No”. Raisi also said his administration would be open to restoring ties with Saudi Arabia.
“There are no obstacles from Iran’s side to re-opening embassies...there are no obstacles to ties with Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The two sides have been engaged in talks hosted by Baghdad since April to improve relations.
Raisi, who is subject to US sanctions imposed over the executions of political prisoners in 1988, has in the past denied he played a role in the killings.
France’s foreign ministry said yesterday that it had “taken note” of Raisi’s victory and that it remained “fully mobilised” to implement the 2015 nuclear deal.
“We reaffirm the concerns we have regularly expressed regarding the human rights situation in Iran,” it added in a statement.
At yesterday’s news conference, Raisi accused the west of violating human rights.
“All that I have done through my years of service has always been towards defending human rights,” said the Iranian president-elect.
Raisi is seen as close to the 81-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate political power in Iran.
His victory had been widely anticipated after the Guardian Council, made up of 12 clerics and jurists, had approved just seven candidates, all men, out of a field of almost 600 hopefuls.
Three of those vetted candidates dropped out two days before the vote. Raisi said there was a “massive” voter turnout in Friday’s election.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Former Algerian president Bouteflika given state funeral
Iran museums reopen after year-long break
Tunisians protest over president’s seizure of powers
Mixed reactions as Algeria’s former president dies
Iran won't allow IS presence on Afghan border: president
Algeria's ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika dies aged 84
Libya-Tunisia border reopens after 2 months
Somalia accuses Djibouti of detaining its security official
Guinea junta hosts talks on post-coup transition