Iran's president-elect: Nation voted for change

AP News
Posted: Jun 29, 2013 6:02 AM
Iran's president-elect: Nation voted for change

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president-elect called his win in national elections this month a vote for change and vowed Saturday to remain committed to his campaign promises of moderation and constructive interaction with the outside world.

Hasan Rouhani's promises of outreach could lower the political temperature between Iran and the West and perhaps nudge the country's ruling Islamic establishment toward a more flexible approach in its standoff over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Rouhani has already promised greater openness on the nuclear issue while at the same time siding with the hard-liner establishment that refuses to halt uranium enrichment. He believes it's possible to strike a deal that would allow the Islamic Republic to keep enriching uranium while assuring the West it will not produce a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. and its allies fear Iran may ultimately be able to develop nuclear arms. Tehran has denied the charges, saying its program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity and producing radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.

The reformist-backed Rouhani won a landslide majority in June 14 presidential election, defeating his conservative and hardline rivals. He will succeed hardline outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad early August.

"People chose a new path ... people said in this election: We want change," Rouhani told a conference in Tehran Saturday. "The best language of the people is the ballot box. The people's vote is very obvious. There is no ambiguity."

Rouhani said he will keep his promise of following a path of moderation in domestic and foreign policy.

"Moderation in foreign policy is neither surrender nor conflict, neither passivity nor confrontation. Moderation is effective and constructive interaction with the world," he said.

Rouhani's election has revived hopes for a mutually acceptable deal over Iran's disputed nuclear program.

The election was seen in part as a referendum on Iran's nuclear diplomacy. The country's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, a hard-liner who supported a policy of resistance, finished third in the vote, which was widely seen as rejection of his tough stance on the nuclear issue.

The final word on all state matters, particularly on the nuclear issue, lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but a strong president can influence decision-making.

Rouhani has vowed that he will seek to have the stinging economic sanctions against Iran lifted and work with international powers to settle the nuclear issue through active diplomacy and dialogue.