New Ira­nian pres­i­dent to im­prove ties

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHAO SHENGNAN zhaosheng­nan@ chi­

Iran’s new pres­i­dent, Hasan Rowhani, took the oath of of­fice be­fore Par­lia­ment on Sun­day, start­ing his four-year term as Iran faces grave chal­lenges over its slug­gish econ­omy and in­ter­na­tional iso­la­tion due to the coun­try’s con­tro­ver­sial nu­clear pro­gram.

The 64-year-old mod­er­ate cleric, who has sig­naled a will­ing­ness for more en­gage­ment with the world, is ex­pected to take a more con­struc­tive ap­proach in im­prov­ing ties with ma­jor pow­ers and the long- run­ning ne­go­ti­a­tions over its nu­clear pro­gram.

Ob­servers said Iran’s re­la­tions with Western pow­ers will im­prove as Rowhani is likely to adopt more flex­i­ble poli­cies to re­solve ten­sions, but such re­la­tions still face un­cer­tainty, given that Te­heran’s nu­clear stance can­not fun­da­men­tally change.

Rowhani of­fi­cially took of­fice on Sun­day af­ter re­ceiv­ing a for­mal en­dorse­ment from supreme leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei at a cer­e­mony in a Te­heran mosque.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, Rowhani promised to work to lift “the op­pres­sive sanc­tions” im­posed on Iran, “save Iran’s econ­omy” and to en­gage more con­struc­tively with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

His first staff ap­point­ment — the nom­i­na­tion of Mo­ham­mad Na­ha­van­dian, who holds a doc­tor­ate in economics from Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in the United States, as chief of staff — was seen as a state­ment of Rowhani’s pri­or­i­ties. Na­ha­van­dian had been pres­i­dent of the Iran Cham­ber of Com­merce, In­dus­tries and Mines.

Khamenei heaped praise on Rowhani, say­ing his elec­tion has de­liv­ered a “clear mes­sage” to the world.

He Wen­ping, an ex­pert at the In­sti­tute of West Asian and African Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences, said Rowhani, who holds a doc­tor­ate in law from Glas­gow Cale­do­nian Univer­sity in Scot­land and is a for­mer chief ne­go­tia­tor in the nu­clear talks, is well in­formed about how to in­ter­act with Western pow­ers.

His “en­gage­ment” state­ments have gained a pos­i­tive re­sponse from the West, but more flex­i­ble mea­sures are needed from Rowhani to achieve a break­through in re­la­tions and an end to Western sanc­tions that have dealt a heavy blow to Iran’s econ­omy, He added.

Af­ter his June elec­tion vic­tory, Rowhani vowed to bol­ster “his­tor­i­cal ties” with Rus­sia and restore diplo­matic ties with the United States, which sev­ered re­la­tions in 1980. But he also pledged “no sur­ren­der” to Western de­mands

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