JEDDAH (RAHNUMA): Iran’s president-elect said Monday there are “no obstacles” to restoring ties with Saudi Arabia, but said he is not willing to negotiate over Tehran’s ballistic missiles or support for regional militia.
Ebrahim Raisi made the comment Monday in a news conference with journalists, his first since winning Friday’s election in a landslide.
“There are no obstacles from Iran’s side to re-opening embassies… there are no obstacles to ties with Saudi Arabia,” he said
He called himself “a defender of human rights” after being asked directly about his involvement in the 1988 mass executions of some 5,000 people.
“The US is obliged to lift all oppressive sanctions against Iran,” he said.
Raisi was part of a so-called “death panel” that sentenced political prisoners to death at the end of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.
Raisi said his country’s foreign policy will not be limited by the 2015 nuclear agreement, in his first news conference since his victory in Friday’s election.
“Our foreign policy will not be limited to the nuclear deal,” Raisi said in Tehran. “We will have interaction with the world.”
“We will not tie the Iranian people’s interests to the nuclear deal.”
The victory of Ebrahim Raisi comes amid the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. Millions of Iranians stayed home in defiance of a vote they saw as tipped in Raisi’s favor.
Of those who did vote, 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, far beyond the amount seen in previous elections and suggesting some wanted none of the four candidates. In official results, Raisi won 17.9 million votes overall, nearly 62 percent of the total 28.9 million cast.
Raisi’s election puts hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at 60 percent its highest levels ever, though still short of weapons-grade levels. Representatives of the world powers party to the deal returned to their capitals for consultations following the latest round of negotiations on Sunday.