Iraqi official says Iran’s new president ‘means serious business’ with U.S.

Barbara Slavin reports: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Aug. 16 that his country is ready to serve as a “bridge” between the United States and Iran, and believes that the Iranian leadership’s acquiescence to the recent election of Hassan Rouhani means that it is serious about resolving the nuclear dispute.

Zebari, in Washington for consultations that primarily focused on rising regional sectarianism, terrorism and the Syria conflict, said in response to a question from Al-Monitor that Rouhani, 64, a cleric partly educated in Scotland, is “a credible leader” who has “very strong relations with all the key leaders in Iran.”

Still, “there are many ways his election could have been scuttled,” had Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other power centers in Iran decided to do so, Zebari said. That Khamenei accepted the election of the least hard-line candidate allowed to run “was a statement by the Islamic Republic to the international community that it means serious business” on the nuclear issue, the veteran Iraqi official said. Zebari added that Rouhani’s win also reflected “enormous pressures” from the Iranian people who are eager to ease Iran’s diplomatic isolation and economic distress. [Continue reading…]

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