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Iran’s president-elect Raisi issues warning over nuclear talks


Iran’s president-elect Raisi issues warning over nuclear talks

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Iran’s president-elect has welcomed the negotiations with world powers aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal but said they must guarantee national interests.

At his first news conference since his victory in Friday’s election, Ebrahim Raisi promised he would not allow the talks in Vienna to be dragged out.

He also insisted that Iran’s ballistic missile programme was “not negotiable”.

The nuclear deal has been close to collapse since the United States abandoned it and reinstated sanctions three years ago.

Raisi, a hard-line Shia Muslim cleric, who is head of Iran’s judiciary and is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, won Friday’s election by a landslide, with 62 per cent of the vote in the first round.

However, turnout was just under 49 per cent – a record low for a presidential poll in the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution – following calls for a boycott from dissidents and some reformists in response to the disqualification of several prominent candidates who might have provided serious competition.

On Monday, described Iranians’ participation in the election as a message of “unity and cohesion”, and a sign that they continued to “walk the path” of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

He also said voters had given him a mandate to “fight against corruption, poverty, and discrimination”, which he had accused the moderate President Hassan Rouhani of failing to tackle during the campaign.

Raisi said his approach to foreign policy would not be limited by the nuclear deal negotiated by Rouhani, which saw Iran agree to limit its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

On the Vienna talks, he said: “We will not allow negotiations to be for negotiations’ sake. Negotiations should not be dragged out but each sitting should bear results. A result-oriented [negotiation] is important to us and it should have an outcome for the Iranian nation.”

Mr Raisi urged the US to immediately return to the deal and lift all the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. When asked if he would meet President Joe Biden if it did so, he replied: “No.” (BBC)