Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Iran-US relations, no longer a taboo for presidential hopefuls

In an interview with Shargh newspaper, Mehdi Karoubi - a potential contender in the upcoming elections - spoke of the possibility and the "necessity to be ready to negotiate with the United States". Former Majlis speaker, Karoubi is a leading figure in the leftist "Majma Rohaniyoon Mobarez" (Assembly of Clercis). He is also a member of the expediency Council whose members are appointed by Iran's supreme leader.
In explaining why he considers Iran's relation with the US as a 'necessity', Karoubi said:"I think the majority of people believe that relation with the US will resolve many of the economic and welfare problems". However, he also expressed his disbelief in this "too optimist perception", by referring to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan whose close ties with the US "have not made their [social and economic] state any better". Despite that, Karoubi says he is of the opinion that people must be listened to, while they must "not expect too much from relation with the US".

Defending the re-establishment of ties with the US by a would-be- contenders for the office of president is unprecedented. Since the first presidential elections in 1980, this issue has always been a soc-called 'red-line' for the candidates. 'No negotiation' was the only policy. On a few occasions, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key figure in Iranian politics and present head of the Expediency Council, had spoken of the possibility of 'conditional negotiations', demanding the US to show a sign of 'good will'. Still two months away from the elections in June, two of the would-be candidates - Moein and Karoubi - have overtly defended the re-establishment of the full relations with US as beneficial to Iran's interest.

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