September 15, 2013


Iran's conservatives silent as Rouhani puts nuclear talks on diplomatic footing (The Guardian, 9/12/13)

The news came in a low-key, brief statement from Hassan Rouhani's public relations office: "The president has handed the responsibility for nuclear negotiations with foreign nations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."

No longer would the Iranian side be led by the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). Within hours of the announcement, Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, announced she had contacted Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's new foreign minister, and agreed to meet on the sidelines of the UN meeting in New York later this month. [...]

Rouhani's new move is partly to create a clearer decision-structure but also reflects his confidence in Zarif, who is US-educated as well as known to many US politicians, including vice-president Joe Biden, from his stint in New York from 2002 to 2007 as Iran's UN representative.

"Having a new foreign minister, the first to be respected internationally in three decades, and also a quick decision-making process between him and the president, this is the only workable way to tackle the crippling nuclear crisis," said Kourosh Zaim, a leading member of the opposition National Front party in Tehran.

In the reformist press, Samira Farahbakhsh argued in Mardom Salaarie (Democracy) that Zarif was "held in high esteem" by western diplomats given his "relatively comprehensive understanding of the behaviour of Western players".

It has also been argued it was important for Rouhani to put talks under a diplomatic rather than a security rubric.

Iran Diplomacy, a website associated with Sadegh Kharrazi, former ambassador to both the UN and France, has posted an article headlined The End of Viewing Nuclear Negotiations a Security Issue, suggesting the move "tells foreigners that Iran has changed the character of the issue from one of security to diplomatic/political, and that they should reconsider their stance as well...[as understanding] the Iranian side is looking for a win-win outcome".

Elections have consequences.

Popular Israeli rabbi may meet Iran's Rouhani (YIFA YAAKOV and DAVID SHAMAH September 12, 2013, Times of Israel)

A powerful Israeli rabbi with influence in the country's halls of power has been invited to meet with the president of Iran, in what could be a remarkable development after years of harsh rhetoric between the two countries.

Rabbi Yoshiyau Yosef Pinto, seen as a spiritual leader for some of Israel's biggest politicians and business leaders, may meet Hassan Rouhani in New York at the UN General Assembly later this month.

Rabbi Yossi Elituv, an Israeli journalist and Pinto's media liaison, told The Times of Israel that Rouhani had expressed interest in the meeting.

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Posted by at September 15, 2013 9:05 AM

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