Sunday, September 22, 2013

Iranians united in their support to president Hassan Rouhani's diplomatic initiatives

    Sunday, September 22, 2013   No comments

Iranian hardliners appear to have given their tacit support to president Hassan Rouhani as the moderate cleric prepares to travel to New York on what could be a critically important visit to the United Nations, which may include a historic meeting with his American counterpart.

Hawkish fundamentalists, including the elite Revolutionary Guards close to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have refrained from demonstrating opposition to Rouhani's new bid to pursue "constructive engagement" with the international community. This could include talks over Iran's controversial nuclear programme and the Syrian conflict. The Iranian president is keen to show the world that he has a united country behind him.

Khamenei, long a fierce critic of the US, has thrown his weight behind Rouhani, apparently giving his blessing for direct talks between Rouhani and President Barack Obama, which could take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week. And Iran's opposition activists and politicians, given new heart after Rouhani's victory in June, appear to share support for the new president in his attempt to improve relations with the west.

Saturday's headlines in Tehran reflected the mood of growing optimism in Iran, where even the hardline press such as Keyhan, an ultra-conservative newspaper whose director is directly appointed by Khamenei, appears to be welcoming the possibility of a historic meeting that can put an end to Tehran and Washington's three decades of animosity. "I have no plans, but it's possible," was Keyhan's headline, quoting Rouhani on the possibility of a meeting with Obama. In a further sign that Rouhani has full authority, the Revolutionary Guard issued a statement offering support for his administration.

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