Leading Iranian moderate presidential candidate Abdolnaser Hemmati said yesterday that Iran could hold talks with the United States if Washington maintains a “positive coexistence” with Tehran.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state affairs in Iran, has repeatedly ruled out negotiations with the United States, with which he has not had diplomatic relations since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
However, Tehran has had indirect talks on the revival of its 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and world powers, which Washington abandoned in 2018.
“We have to see how America handles the nuclear deal … and then we have to see if America wants to continue meddling in the region through Israel and its elements,” Hemmati, a former central bank chief, said at a press conference ahead of the election on Friday.
“There are a number of issues that need confidence-building … If we really feel that America is moving towards positive coexistence to advance world and regional peace, then there should be no problem having conversation,” said Hemmati in a statement from the semi-official Fars news agency.
Facing a field of five hardliners and one moderate admitted by a hardline-led election guard, Hemmati had limited success winning reformist support while calling for the election to be boycotted.
Opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi, who has been under house arrest since 2011, has announced that he will vote for Hemmati, Iranian news outlets quoted Karoubi’s son yesterday.
But Karoubi’s ally Mirhossein Mousavi, who has also been under house arrest since 2011, has joined the boycott of dissidents at home and abroad.
Last month, the Guardian Council of the Islamic Republic approved only seven candidates for the presidential election and disqualified several prominent candidates.
The ruling has raised the prospects of the head of justice Ebrahim Raisi, an ally of Khamenei, but could tarnish hopes of high voter turnout amid alienation and dissatisfaction with an economy crippled by US sanctions.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accused Iran of having increased the pressure on journalists, including foreign reporters, during the election campaign to such an extent that it was impossible to “speak of a democratic process”.