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Rouhani election a positive development: Ex-diplomats

Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani’s election is a “positive development”,as it brings in expectations of a “greater moderation”

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: June 17, 2013 3:27:18 am

Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani’s election is a “positive development”,as it brings in expectations of a “greater moderation” and reflects the “desire of the people of Iran to re-engage” with the world,according to former Indian diplomats.

Rouhani,a moderate cleric,secured more than 50 per cent of votes,thus avoiding the need for a run-off. “This victory was a victory of wisdom,moderation,progress,awareness,commitment and religiosity over extremism and bad behaviour,” he said on Sunday.

Former foreign secretary Salman Haidar said,“This is a good development,and reflects Iran’s urge to engage with the world. Now,there will be expectations of greater moderation and greater realism in dealing with the urgent needs of the people of Iran,since their economy is in a bad shape.” Haidar felt that Rouhani,considered a liberal,will receive a “more sympathetic” hearing from the US. He said that since Iranians are good diplomats,and if they are given little opportunity and encouragement,there could be movement in Tehran’s talks with the international community. “India’s support for international relaxations”,he said,is important since New Delhi’s interests are very clear: it wants closer economic relations. “But that had been interrupted by economic sanctions and if there is some easing of sanctions,we will benefit,” he added.

R S Kalha,who as secretary (West) in the MEA has dealt with Iran,was a bit circumspect. “Although Rouhani has won the Presidential elections,we must remember that power on international affairs lies with Ayatollah Khomeini,the Supreme leader.” Kalha,who has tracked Rouhani’s campaign closely,said that he stands for a “more liberal society,” and is an advocate of “gender equality” and “civil rights charter”. “Overall,Rouhani’s election will be change in nuance,but not in substance,” he said.

Swashpawan Singh,who has served in the MEA’s Iran division and shaped India’s foreign policy in the Gulf region,said that Rouhani’s election shows that there is a broader support for “greater re-engagement with the world”. This is quite significant,Singh said,since former Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was limited in his outlook and strident in his public expressions. “Much will depend on what kind of team Rouhani puts together,” he added.

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