Iran’s ex-president calls for talks with U.S. (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Abraham Rabinovich JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 04/06/12)
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JERUSALEM — A former president of Iran is calling on the Islamic
republic to negotiate with the United States to avoid “an adventurous
policy” involving Iranian-backed anti-Israel proxies in Lebanon and
the Gaza Strip.
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani also says Iran has no intention to
produce an atomic bomb. “We sincerely believe that there is no need
for nuclear weapons in the region,” he said in an interview published
in the Iranian International Studies Journal.
Widely regarded as a moderate in Iranian politics, Mr. Rafsanjani was
president from 1989 to 1997. He resigned last year from the Council
of Experts that advises the supreme leader amid disagreements with
the hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In his interview, which was translated by the Middle East Media
Research Institute, Mr. Rafsanjani said he tried in vain to persuade
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded Iran’s theocratic regime in
1979, to negotiate with Washington.
“I wrote him a letter by hand and gave it to him myself because I
didn’t want anyone else to read it. I wrote that refraining from
talks or ties with America could not go on forever. America is one of
the stronger powers in the world,” he said.
Mr. Rafsanjani said he noted in his letter that Tehran was talking
with other countries such as China and the Soviet Union. “Negotiating
doesn’t mean that we are capitulating to them,” he said.
In a response to the interview, Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the
pro-government newspaper Kayhan, said Khomeini opposed dialogue with
the U.S. “because Iran’s primary conflict has been and remains with
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency, which is close to the elite
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that Mr. Rafsanjani’s call
for a dialogue with Washington contradicts senior officials who have
said that talks with the U.S. would produce no results.
The Iranian militia also noted that his call comes amid U.S. and
Western sanctions against the regime’s nuclear program and heightened
anti-American sentiments in the Middle East.
Mr. Rafsanjani said Iran’s national interests demand good relations
with the U.S., which would help prevent “an adventurous policy”
involving the Iranian-backed militant groups Hamas in Gaza and
Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Mr. Rafsanjani had been considered Khomeini’s principal aide and held
a series of top posts over the years.
However, his public criticism of current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khameni and his support of the opposition during the last
presidential election have put him at odds with the regime.
Pro-government newspapers expressed doubt that his remarks will
influence the regime regarding upcoming negotiations with the West.
(© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 04/06/12)
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