The international community has weighed in on the election of Hassan Rowhani in Iran. For their part, EU nations have reacted positively to the news of the election of a moderate candidate as Iran’s next president.
The cleric, moderate, and former chief negotiator in talks about Iran's nuclear program had vowed to seek a diplomatic solution to the atomic dispute en route to winning Saturday's election. European nations are hoping for just such a change in tone. A statement released by the EU's top diplomat on Saturday stressed the 27-nation bloc's willingness to engage with the newly elected president.
"I remain firmly committed to working with the new Iranian leadership towards a swift diplomatic solution of the nuclear issue," said Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy coordinator.
Ashton serves as chief negotiator in talks between the P5 +1 group - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - and Iran aimed at resolving the dispute over the country's nuclear program. Western nations and Israel fear the program is a front for efforts to produce atomic weapons. Iran has repeatedly insisted that its nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes only.
'Respectful and fair'
Rowhani won with 50.7 percent on a turnout of about 73 percent of eligible voters.
"Now, there is an opportunity in the international scene for those who support democracy to speak to this great nation through respectful and fair language while admitting its rights," Rowhani said.
Vladimir Putin, the president of P5+1 member Russia, expressed hope for more political stability in the region after Rowhani's election. Putin emphasized that Moscow was willing to develop its cooperation with Iran on various aspects of regional security and international stability, according to a statement by the Kremlin on Sunday.
He said he hoped Rowhani's victory would "further strengthen Russian-Iranian relations."
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the international community should not ease pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. He said "the supreme leader, not the president, is the one who decides on the nuclear program."
"We do not delude ourselves," Netanyahu told his Cabinet. "The international community must not cling to wishful thinking, give in to temptation and ease the pressure on Iran."
For its part, the militant Shiite group Hezbollah, a close ally of Iran, issued a statement on Sunday welcoming Rowhani's election. Iran both finances and arms Hezbollah, with much of that support channeled through Syria, where the group has dispatched its fighters to battle alongside regime forces against rebels. Earlier this year, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Syria's "friends," including Iran, would not allow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to fall.
"The Arab and Muslim people ... who have always seen the Islamic republic as a supporter of the oppressed ... and every fighter who resists for God, consider you today a beacon of hope," Hezbollah said in a release.
The markets have also reacted favorably to Rowhani's election. On Sunday, Iran's stock exchange climbed for a second day following the reformist's surprise win.
mkg/slk (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)