Iran’s Rowhani urges ‘path of moderation’

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Hasan Rowhani, President elect of Iran. (AP Photo)

Hasan Rowhani, President elect of Iran. (AP Photo)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s newly-elected president is promising to be more open about the country’s nuclear program. But at the same time, Hasan Rowhani is opposing any stop to Iran’s enrichment of uranium.

The country’s moderates and reformers united around Rowhani as he defeated a field of hard-liners in Friday’s balloting. And in his first news conference since that vote today, Rowhani promised to follow a “path of moderation.”

Reaching out to Washington, Rowhani urged that there be no additional tensions, and said both countries should “look to the future.” But he repeated past statements from Iran’s leadership that one-on-one talks are only possible if the United States vows to “never interfere in Iranian affairs.”

Rowhani sidestepped the issue of Iran’s close ties with Syria’s Bashar Assad. He said only that efforts to end the civil war there rest with the Syrian people.

Rowhani doesn’t have the power to set major policies, such as the direction of the nuclear program or relations with the West. All of those decisions rest with the ruling clerics and the powerful Revolutionary Guard. So far, they have appeared to embrace Rowhani — but they could easily turn against him if he is perceived as a threat to their grip on power.

The new president can, however, use the strength of his landslide victory to try to sway policies. And he will serve as Iran’s main international envoy.

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