Iranian president-elect says he will not meet with Biden


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iranian President-elect said on Monday that he would not meet with President Joe Biden or negotiate over Tehran’s ballistic missile program and support for regional militias, sticking to a uncompromising position after his landslide victory last time around. the election of the week.

Judicial chief Ebrahim Raisi also described himself as a “human rights defender” when asked about his involvement in the mass execution of some 5,000 people in 1988. It was the first time it was staged on live television on that dark moment in Iranian history at the end of the Iran-Iraq war.

“The United States is compelled to lift all oppressive sanctions against Iran,” Raisi said at the press conference.

Raisi sat in front of a sea of ​​microphones, most of them from Iran and countries with Tehran-backed militias. He looked nervous at the start of his comments, but slowly grew more at ease during the hour-long press conference.

Asked about Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support for regional militias, Raisi called the issues “non-negotiable.”

Tehran’s fleet of attack jets dates back largely to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, forcing Iran to invest in missiles instead to protect itself against its regional Arab neighbors, who bought billions of dollars in equipment. American military over the years. These missiles, with a self-imposed range limit of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) can reach military bases in the Middle East and the United States in the region.

Iran is also relying on militias like the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon to counterbalance enemies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, respectively.

In a possible meeting with Biden, Raisi simply replied, “No.” His moderate contender in the election, Abdolnasser Hemmati, had suggested during the campaign that he would potentially be willing to meet with Biden.

The White House did not immediately respond to Raisi’s statements on Monday. Raisi will become the first sitting Iranian president to be sanctioned by the US government even before taking office, in part during his tenure as head of the internationally criticized Iranian justice system – one of the world’s biggest tormentors.

The victory for Raisi, a protégé of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came amid the lowest turnout in Islamic Republic history. Millions of Iranians stayed at home in defiance of a vote they saw tilted in favor of Raisi after a panel led by Khamenei disqualified its biggest competitor.

Of those who voted, 3.7 million people accidentally or intentionally canceled their ballots, well above the number seen in previous elections and suggesting that some did not want any of the four candidates. In the official results, Raisi won 17.9 million votes in total, nearly 62% of the total of 28.9 million votes. In Tehran, the election recorded a turnout of 34%, a number well below previous years which had seen polling stations noticeably empty.

Raisi’s election puts a firm hard line on government control as talks in Vienna continue to try to salvage a tattered deal meant to curb Iran’s nuclear program, at a time when Tehran is enriching it. 60% uranium, its highest level on record, though it still runs out of weapon quality levels. Representatives of world powers parties to the deal returned to their capitals for consultations after the last round of negotiations on Sunday.

Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the landmark deal in 2018, sparking months of tension in the region.

Raisi’s electoral victory has raised fears that it will complicate an eventual return to the nuclear deal. In his remarks on Monday, Raisi called the sanctions relief “central to our foreign policy” and urged the United States to “come back and implement its commitments” in the deal.

Iran’s only nuclear power plant in Bushehr suffered an unexplained emergency shutdown on Sunday. Previously, Iranian officials had warned that US sanctions were affecting their ability to obtain parts for the installation.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, which recently started secret talks with Iran in Baghdad to reduce tensions with Iran, Raisi said Iran would have “no problem” with a possible reopening of the embassy. Saudi Arabia in Tehran and that “the restoration of relations faces no barriers.” “The embassy was closed in 2016 when relations deteriorated.

Raisi, however, adopted a defiant tone when asked about the 1988 executions, which saw mock trials of political prisoners, activists and others who would become known as “death commissions.” .

After then-Iranian supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini agreed to a UN-brokered ceasefire, members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, heavily armed by Saddam Hussein, took storming the Iranian border from Iraq in a surprise attack. Iran eventually blunted their assault.

Trials began around this time, with the defendants asked to identify themselves. Those who answered “mujahedin” were sent to their deaths, while others were questioned about their willingness to “clear the minefields for the army of the Islamic Republic”, according to an Amnesty International report by 1990.

International rights groups estimate that up to 5,000 people have been executed. Raisi served on committees.

“I am proud to be an advocate for human rights and the safety and comfort of people as a prosecutor wherever I am,” he said. “All the actions that I carried out during my mandate were always in the direction of the defense of human rights.

He added: “Today, in the presidential post, I feel compelled to defend human rights.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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