Iran’s Newly-Elected Pres. On Path Of Moderation

TEHRAN, Iran –  Iran’s newly elected president pledged Monday to follow a “path of moderation” and promised greater openness over the country’s nuclear program, emphasizing messages from Western leaders since his victory that have brought cautious hope of new openings with Tehran.

Hasan Rowhani used his first news conference since Friday’s election to sketch out views that are likely to be further welcomed in the West as possible opportunities to ease tensions, led by those stemming from Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.

But he said he would not support halting Iran’s uranium enrichment, which is a key stumbling block on talks between Iran and world powers.

He also sidestepped the issue of Iran’s close alliance with Syria’s Bashar Assad, saying that the efforts to end the civil war and restore stability rest with the “Syrian people.”

But Iran’s president does not have authority to set major policies such as the direction of the nuclear program or relations with the West. All such decisions rest with the ruling clerics and the powerful Revolutionary Guard, which have so far appeared to embrace Rowhani.

Rowhani, however, can use the strength of his landslide victory and his influential connections, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to try to sway policies. He also will serve as Iran’s main international envoy and is almost certain to present a different tone than his combative predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who formally gives up power in August.

Rowhani described his election as opening a “new era” and said he would “follow the path of moderation and justice, not extremism.”

“We have to enhance mutual trust between Iran and other countries,” he said. “We have to build trust.”

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