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‘With Rouhani in office West will have to negotiate sanctions lift’

Published time: June 16, 2013 12:27

Hassan Rouhani (AFP Photo)

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Now that moderate Iranian cleric Hassan Rouhani is set to assume the presidency, the West will have to get to the negotiating table to talk to Tehran in a serious fashion and resolve the problem of sanctions, Iranian journalist Hamid Reza Emadi told RT.

Rouhani, 64, has become Iran's new president-elect with a 51 percent win that allowed him to avoid a run-off.

The reformist-backed former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and ex-nuclear negotiator will inherit a country with an economy hit by Western sanctions which are set against Tehran's alleged nuclear weapons ambitions.

Now that Rouhani is going to head the executive branch of power, “a lot of people inside and outside Iran believe that tensions will be eased and the situation will be calmer and Iran’s economy will flourish,” Emadi told RT.

The cleric is believed to have moderate stance on issues like relations with the West and the ‘nuclear file’, he also used to be Iran’s top nuclear negotiator.

The West is cautiously optimistic about Rouhani, but getting crippling sanctions imposed on Iran lifted will be a hard task, warns Emadi.

“It is tough to convince the Western countries that they have made a big mistake by imposing sanctions against Iranian nation. I would call the sanctions genocidal for hurting ordinary Iranians,” he said.

Negotiations between Iran and the West have been practically non-existent in recent years, insists Emadi, but the new president might rebuild the Iranian negotiating team to get to talks with the West in a better way.

The latest round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program took place in Kazakhstan in April and brought no breakthrough. Negotiators went back to their capitals declaring “positions remain far apart.”

On the other hand, Iran can hardly be expected to drop what it calls its lawful rights.

“Iran wants its nuclear rights to be respected. The ball now is very much in the quarter of the Western countries, which have been accusing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration of being stubborn and being not very serious about the talks. Now that Hassan Rouhani will be in office, the West will have no more excuses, they will have to come to [the] negotiation table and talk to Iranians in a serious fashion to solve this problem [of sanctions] once and for all,” Emadi predicted.

“But in every negotiation there is a very important element of trust. This element was non-existent in the past several years. Now we might have it in place. There is hope that negotiations will get somewhere at the end of the day,” Emadi concluded.

Washington has already announced their willingness to directly negotiate with Iran on its nuclear program, while British and French officials welcomed Rouhani coming to office, because he is a well-known negotiator.

On Sunday, despite the election of moderate Rouhani to the presidency in Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community to increase pressure on Tehran.

“The more pressure increases on Iran so will the chance of ending Iran's nuclear program, which remains the biggest threat to world peace,” Netanyahu said.

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