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Incoming Iranian president vows to pursue moderate course

June 29, 2013|By Ramin Mostaghim and Patrick J. McDonnell
  • President-elect Hassan Rowhani speaking in his first live televised speech since his election during a ceremony at state TV in Tehran on Saturday.
President-elect Hassan Rowhani speaking in his first live televised speech… (Iran presidential website…)

TEHRAN — Bolstering his centrist image, Iranian President-elect Hassan Rowhani vowed “moderation” in foreign and domestic affairs Saturday in his first nationally televised address since his surprising election victory earlier this month.

In an almost hourlong speech from the state broadcaster’s headquarters, Rowhani used some variant of the word “moderate” at least 10 times, signaling his intention to repair Iran’s fractured relations with the international community--while not compromising the Islamic Republic’s  independence. In line with previous comments since his election, Rowhani sought to send out a message of optimism and tolerance.

“Moderation in foreign policy means constructive interaction, not submission and confrontation,” Rowhani told a media conference here.

Known as the “Sheikh diplomat” because of his dual status as a cleric and Iran’s former nuclear negotiator, Rowhani has indicated that Iran’s foreign policy would shift to greater engagement with the outside world. His conciliatory comments have contrasted with the confrontational  and bombastic style of outgoing two-term President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who steps down in August.

Rowhani, who is scheduled to take office on Aug. 5,  made no direct mention of the nation’s controversial nuclear program, a major source of tension with Washington and its allies.

A centrist who gained support from Iran’s long-stymied reformist bloc, Rowhani was the unexpected winner of the June 14 presidential elections, besting a number of conservative contenders regarded as favorites. The vote was widely seen as a repudiation of hard-line policies that have left Iran isolated and subject to withering international economic sanctions, contributing to rising prices and dwindling job opportunities, especially for the nation’s burgeoning young population.

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