EU nations have reacted positively to the news of the election of a moderate candidate as Iran’s next president. They are hoping for a change in tone from Iran, particularly regarding its disputed nuclear program.
A statement released by the European Union’s top diplomat on Saturday stressed the 27-nation bloc’s willingness to engage with newly elected President Hassan Rowhani
“I remain firmly committed to working with the new Iranian leadership towards a swift diplomatic solution of the nuclear issue,” Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy coordinator said in a statement.
Ashton is the chief negotiator in talks between six world powers and Tehran aimed at resolving an international dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which Western nations in particular fear could be a front for efforts to produce atomic weapons. Tehran has repeatedly insisted that its nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes only.
Westerwelle described Rowhani’s victory as a “vote by the people for reforms and a constructive foreign policy.”
The two other European countries involved in the nuclear talks, France and the UK, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, expressed similar sentiments.
“The international community has high expectations from Iran, especially about its nuclear program and its involvement in Syria,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. “We are ready to work on this with the new Iranian president.”
A statement released by the British Foreign Office called on Rowhani “to set Iran on a different course for the future: addressing international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, taking forward a constructive relationship with the international community.”
Criticism from US, Israel
A White House statement criticized how Friday’s election was conducted. At the same time though, it said Washington “remains ready to engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”
Israel noted that Iran’s supreme leader, not the country’s president, has the last word on foreign policy.
“Iran will continue to be judged by its actions, in the nuclear sphere as well as on the issue of terror,” an Israeli foreign ministry statement said.
Rowhani won just over 50-percent of the votes in Friday’s presidential election, allowing him to avoid a run-off. More than 72-percent of the country’s 50 million eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots.
The lone moderate candidate in the race, Rowhani was supported by reformists and has promised to end what he called the “eight-year dark era” of Ahmadinejad by promoting freedom of expression and the press. He has long been an outspoken critic of Ahmadinejad and accuses him of being needlessly hostile with the international community.
Rowhani, 64, served in parliament from 1980 until 2000, when he became a member of the Assembly of Experts, the body that oversees the work of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He also held Iran’s top security post as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 1989 to 2005.
pfd/jlw (AFP, Reuters, AP)