The Supreme Leader’s office signalled its firm support of President Rouhani’s foreign-policy line of “engagement” on Monday, with Ali Akbar Velayati — top aide to Ayatollah Khamenei, former Foreign Minister, and 2013 Presidential candidate — backing up the message of Iran’s eagerness to enter discussions on its nuclear program.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Velayati said, “[This] could be a test for the goodwill of Western countries….They (the West) have to use this opportunity.”
The advisor endorsed the weekend declarations of Rouhani and his new Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, of a change of style and approach from the aggressiveness of recent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his inner circle: “Repeating the same language that we had before, I don’t think it is useful. We have to talk with a different language. The same purposes but a different language.”
During the Presidential campaign, Velayati sharply criticised fellow candidate and lead nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili for a brusque, far-from-diplomatic approach that had hindered any change of agreement with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany).
Like the new President and Foreign Secretary, Velayati made clear that engagement does not mean any concession on Iran’s core positions over its nuclear programme, such as the right to enrich uranium:
We stopped any kind of enrichment for two years. What was the result? Nothing. Every day they used to put an extra claim on their former claims. Why must we repeat this experience?
(Featured Photo: Ali Akbar Velayati — AP)