LATEST: Rouhani — “Political Solution in Syria; No Foreign Involvement”

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On Sunday, after taking the oath as Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani sent out a message to other nations:

The only way to engage Iran is dialogue from equal position, mutual trust-building, respect, and reducing animosity…. Speak to us w/ the language of respect not threats.

On Monday, Rouhani got a rather sharp response from the US Senate — 76 of the 100 Senators sent a letter to President Obama calling for the prospect of military action: “We must be prepared to act and Iran must see that we are prepared.”

The Senators said, ahead of possible high-level talks between Iran and the 5+1 Powers this autumn, that the Islamic Republic must significantly slow down its nuclear activities: “We believe our nation must toughen sanctions and reinforce the credibility of our option to use military force at the same time as we fully explore a diplomatic solution to our dispute with Iran.”

The letter repeated, “Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end.”

The firm declaration by the Senators appears to mark the renewed supremacy of “no engagement” forces in Washington. Last week, the other chamber in Congress, the House of Representative, called for more sanctions to slash Iran’s oil exports by 1 million barrels per day — an ambitious target, given that Tehran is now selling only about 800,000 bpd.

Only last month, US politicians and activists supporting engagement — saying that it will help Rouhani in his quest for authority and influence in the Iranian system — claimed a victory with another letter to President Obama: this one from 131 of the 535 Congressional representatives, seeking genuine negotiations over the nuclear issue.

Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

Mousavi Returns Home From Hospital

RFE/RL correspondent Frud Bezhan tweets:

Rouhani: “Political Solution in Syria; No Foreign Involvement”

President Rouhani set out a standard line from Tehran on the Syrian conflict, emphasizing negotiations and denouncing foreign intervention — without referring to Iran’s own involvement in support of the Assad regime:

Rouhani: No Women in Cabinet But “I Am Still Committed to Creating Equal Opportunities”

A tricky moment for President Rouhani? Observers have noted that, despite campaign promises to address women’s rights, he did not name one woman for his proposed Cabinet:

Rouhani: “Economic Issues Will Be Priority”

Before questions led to a focus on relations with the US, President Rouhani gave a brief but important clue about the first task for his admininstration:

That indicates an immediate re-consideration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s flagship subsidy cuts plan, which was bogged down by economic difficulties and disputes with Parliament. The first phase was belatedly implemented in December 2010, but a second phase was never confirmed.

Rouhani: “Sanctions Only Hurt Iranian People”

President Rouhani said that the US-led sanctions have only “just made life hard for people”:

He continues, in response to a question from The New York Times:

Rouhani: US “Sending Mixed Messages” Over Nuclear Talks

Continuing on the theme of nuclear discussions with Washington, President Rouhani has focused on the dispute over engagement in Washington, with advocates gaining ground last month in a letter to President Obama but losing it in the past week amid a Congressional push for more sanctions:

Rouhani: “Threats Are Not The Solution” In Nuclear Talks

Almost immediately, President Rpuhani’s press conference turned to Iran’s foreign relations and the nuclear issue, especially concerning the US.

After upholding “engagement”, Rouhani maintained a firm line with Washington.

Rouhani: “I Will Apologize to People for Mistakes”

At his first press conference, President Rouhani has promised accountability, implying it did not exist in the Ahmadinejad administration, “My government is a transparent one and in case of any mistakes I will apologize from people.”

Mehr News Publishes Guardian Editorial Urging US-Iranian Engagement

Mehr News has published an editorial from the British Guardian newspaper that urges the United States to engage with Iran and lift economic sanctions on its English-language website.

It is the latest effort by Iranian media to push for engagement between the West, principally the United States, and Iran.

The editorial argues that although the White House showed willingness to engage with Tehran, President Obama has to “overcome the belligerence of Congress.”

It also suggests that the strategy of increasing sanctions on Iran so the Islamic Republic will “bend a little further” in negotiations on its nuclear programme, “could not be more ill-judged” because “in seeking to lift the sanctions yoke, Mr. Rohani is speaking for everyone in Iran.”

The piece acknowledges that “a vision unimpeded by wishful thinking is essential” but warns against the dangers of another war in the Persian Gulf that might be “sparked” by attacks on Iran’s nuclear installations. It concludes with the exhortation that “If a deal is there to be done with Iran, it should be seized.”

By publishing the editorial – almost – in its entirety, the day after 76 US Senators called for Washington to be “prepared” for military action against Iran, Mehr News is indicating that diplomatic engagement is an option still very much on the table.

The original Guardian editorial can be seen here.

Rafsanjani: “Differences Between White House and Congress Do Not Send Good Signal to Iranian People”


Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani has suggested that the different views expressed by the Obama administration and the US Congress regarding Iran “do not send a good signal to the Iranian people.”

In a meeting with former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Sunday, Rafsanjani said “Sanctions and threats have always cast a shadow over negotiations, and we should move toward the resolution of old grievances in an atmosphere of calm and peace.”

He added, “We should not allow the prevailing atmosphere in Iran’s (relations) with certain countries in the past eight years cast a shadow over the continuation of activities because a new era in foreign policy and interaction with the world based on respect and mutual trust has begun.”

Rouhani Urges Regional Peace; VP Praises Syrian Government’s Resistance


In a phone conversation with Turkish Prime Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Hassan Rouhani has said “We should all make efforts to establish peace, stability and tranquility in the region.”

Rouhani stressed the need for cooperation between their two countries in order to end the ongoing violence in the region.

Meanwhile, First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri praised the resistance of the Syrian government and nation against the violence and hardship within the country.