EU, US welcome emergence of new moderate president in Iran

Despite skepticism in Israel

The European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Saturday that the announced results of Iran’s presidential elections signalled that the Iranian people had “decided to entrust” the new president-elect with a “strong mandate to govern” the country.

In a statement on Saturday, Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs said she wished “Mr. Rohani well in forming a new government and in taking up his new responsibilities.”

“I remain firmly committed to working with the new Iranian leadership towards a swift diplomatic solution of the nuclear issue,” she continued.

Moderate candidate Hassan Rohani, who enjoyed the backing of former presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami, won Iran’s presidential election, which was held on Friday 14th of June.

The White House reacted to Rohani’s victory by saying that it respected the decision of the Iranian people and congratulated them on their participation in the political process. “[T]he Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future,” it said in a statement.

“It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians,” it added.

The statement also expressed readiness on the part of the United States to “engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution” to the dispute over the nuclear issue.

In Israel, however, a more moderate Iranian head of state is unlikely to be seen as a welcomed development.

In an interview with BBC Persian on Saturday, Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli Middle East analyst, described Ahmadinejad’s presidency and his bellicose statements as a “goldmine” for the Israeli government, which will find it more difficult to present Iran as an existential threat to the Jewish State.

Shortly after Rohani’s victory was announced, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that the nuclear programme “was set by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and not by the president of Iran.”

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