BREAKING: President Hassan Rouhani has registered his candidacy for re-election.

Addressing reporters after filing, Rouhani said he had fulfilled pledges during his first term, with an improved economy and new projects. He cited a $20 billion dollar initiative to be inaugurated in the port city of Assaluyeh in southern Iran next week.

Rouhani pointed to July 2015 nuclear agreement as an essential breakthrough and said, “The same people who struggled day and night for this agreement should continue down its path until the last steps.”

He continued, “In terms of national and international security, the ominous shadow of war [over the country] has disappeared and with people-based security, we are witnessing rather unprecedented security in the history of Iran [and] in the turbulent region of the Middle East today.”


ORIGINAL ENTRY: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is in Moscow for talks with his Russian and Assad regime counterparts about the Syrian crisis.

The conference comes two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had long discussions with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Lavrov then saw Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem on Thursday.

See further updates in Syria Daily: Russia and Assad Try to Cover Up Chemical Attack

It is the first meeting among the three Foreign Ministers since October. No details have been given of Friday’s agenda, although it is likely to include a coordination of the line over last week’s Assad regime chemical attack on a town in northwest Syria and the US response, its first deliberate missile strikes on a regime airbase.

Lavrov may also discuss the international initiative, represented by Tillerson on Wednesday, for Moscow to distance itself from President Assad.

See Syria Daily: Russia and Assad Try to Cover Up Chemical Attack

After reacting cautiously to the chemical attack, not denying the Assad regime’s responsibility, Iran has moved to a tougher line. High-level Iranian officials blamed a “third party” for use of nerve agent and chlorine, and the Supreme Leader claimed the US missile strikes were part of an alliance with the Islamic State: “Former American officials created Daesh or helped them, and the current officials are also strengthening Daesh or a group similar to it.”

See Iran Daily, April 10: Supreme Leader Speaks Out on Syria

TOP PHOTO: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, and Syria’s Walid al-Muallem in Moscow, October 2016

638 Register to Run for Presidency

By the end of Thursday, 638 people registered as candidates for the May 19 Presidential election.

The highest-profile candidate so far is former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with his surprise registration on Tuesday. His former Vice President Hamid Baghaei also declared, apparently in the hope that one of the two men will be approved by the Guardian Council to staff.

See Iran Daily, April 13: Explaining Ahmadinejad’s Surprise Candidacy in Presidential Election

Former Oil Minister and MP Mohammad Gharazi and Assembly of Experts member Grand Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei Golpaygani also filed.

President Hassan Rouhani and the man expected to be his leading principlist challenger, Ebrahim Raisi, have not yet registered. The deadline is Saturday.

Raisi, the head of the leading religious organization Astan Quds Razavi, led the vote among five finalists in the recent vote by the new conservative-hardline bloc, the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces.

Spokesman Marzieh Dastjerdi said on Thursday that the Popular Front will permit all five finalists to register and will decide on a single candidate at a later date. In addition to Raisi, the hopefuls are Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ghalibaf, former Education Minister Hamid Reza Haji Babaei, and former MPs Mehrdad Bazrpash and Alireza Zakani.