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Rowhani urges world to respect Iran and its rights
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) June 15, 2013

US ready to engage Iran 'directly' after election
Washington (AFP) June 15, 2013 - The United States said Saturday it is prepared to engage Iran directly over its disputed nuclear program after moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani was declared the country's new president.

The White House said such engagement would be aimed at reaching a "diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program."

The West suspects Iran's nuclear program is aimed at building nuclear weapons, but Iran insists it is for peaceful purposed like generating energy.

The White House said in a statement it respected the will of the Iranian people and congratulated for taking part in the election, praising "their courage in making their voices heard."

It said the vote Friday was held amid lack of transparency, censorship of the media, the Internet and text messages, and "an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly."

"However, despite these government obstacles and limitations, the Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future," it added.

"It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians," the statement said.

"The United States remains ready to engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program," it added.

Israel urges tougher Iran sanctions whoever wins vote
Jerusalem (AFP) June 15, 2013 - Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has called for tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme regardless of who is elected as its new president, public radio reported on Saturday.

The report came as partial results from Friday's election gave a clear lead to moderate Hassan Rowhani, who headed Iran's nuclear negotiating team under reformist president Mohammad Khatami in the early 2000s and has pledged to engage more with the international community.

"We must toughen the sanctions against Iran and make this country understand that the military option remains on the table to halt the progress of its dangerous nuclear programme," the radio station quoted Yaalon as saying on a visit to the United States.

Asked about the presidential election, Yaalon replied: "It is (supreme leader Ayatollah) Ali Khamenei who will decide who gets elected."

A Pentagon statement confirmed that Yaalon discussed Iran in talks with Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday but gave few details.

Hagel and Yaalon "reaffirmed that the United States and Israel will continue to work together to counter threats posed by Iran and remain prepared for a range of contingencies," the statement said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already said on Wednesday that he expects no change in Iran's nuclear policy whoever wins the election.

Israel is the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power and has made preventing Iran from developing a rival arsenal its top strategic priority.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for civil power generation and medical purposes only.

President-elect Hassan Rowhani Saturday hailed his victory as one of moderation over extremism, urging world powers to treat Iran with respect and acknowledge its rights in order to receive an appropriate response.

"This is a victory of intelligence, of moderation, of progress... over extremism," Rowhani said in televised remarks.

"A new opportunity has been created by this great epic, and the nations who tout democracy and open dialogue should speak to the Iranian people with respect and recognise the rights of the Islamic republic," he said.

Then they will "hear an appropriate response," he added.

Rowhani was in charge of Tehran's nuclear negotiations from 2003 to 2005.

He was alluding to the country's insistence that it has a right to its nuclear energy programme, which it insists is peaceful despite Western claims it hides an arms programme.

Khamenei, not president, calls Iran nuclear shots: Israel
Jerusalem (AFP) June 15, 2013 - Israel reacted to the election of Iran's new president on Saturday by saying it was supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who decides on nuclear policy, not the president.

"Iran's nuclear programme has so far been determined by Khamenei, and not by Iran's president," the foreign ministry said after Hassan Rowhani was elected to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"After the election, Iran will continue to be judged by its acts, in the nuclear field as well as that of terrorism," the statement said.

"Iran must conform to the demands of the international community and stop its nuclear programme and cease spreading terrorism in the world."

Rowhani was seen as a moderate candidate, but Israel's foreign ministry questioned the moderation attributed to Iran's president-elect.

"The president of Iran was chosen by Ayatollah Khamenei, who disqualified and prevented the candidates who did not conform to his extremist views from standing," the statement added.

But a senior Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity said the election showed the Iranian people's desire for change.

"The Iranian people have showed their leaders that they oppose the path that has lead to sanctions and made their lives more difficult," he said.

"If Iran does not respect the demands of the international community and immediately cease its nuclear programme, the international community must increase the pressure on Iran," he added.

This echoed the statements of Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon who had said before the results of the Iranian election that he favoured tougher sanctions against the Islamic republic regardless of the results at the polls.

"We must toughen the sanctions against Iran and make this country understand that the military option remains on the table to halt the progress of its dangerous nuclear programme," a radio station quoted Yaalon as saying on a visit to the United States.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Iran's presidential election would bring about no significant change in Tehran's policies.

He said the Tehran "regime will continue to be led by one man, one ruler (who) will continue Iran's quest for nuclear weapons."

Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear power, along with the West accuses Iran of using its atomic energy programme as a cover for developing an atomic bomb. Tehran roundly denies those claims.

Tehran is also accused of aiding the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and the Palestinian movement Hamas, both bitter enemies of the Jewish state.


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