Millennium Post

Iran’s Rouhani takes oath, Ansari attends ceremony

Hassan Rouhani, a moderate cleric who was a surprise winner in the recent elections, took oath on Sunday as Iran’s seventh President at a ceremony attended by a galaxy of world leaders, including Hamid Ansari, vice president of India, with which he has pledged to expand ties.
The 64-year-old former nuclear negotiator, who has committed himself to greater international engagement for Iran which is battling sanctions over its nuclear programme, was administered the oath in Milli Majlis, the Iranian Parliament.

Rouhani was officially endorsed by the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Khamenei on Saturday for a four-year term. ‘The country needs a national determination to keep its distance from extremism and needs to concentrate on the rule of law,’ Khamenei had said, endorsing the moderate cleric.

Soon after his victory in the June Presidential polls, Rouhani pledged to expand relations with India calling it his foreign policy priority. He visited India in 2002.
Reflecting warm bilateral ties, Ansari flew into the Iranaian capital by a special plane to represent

India at the ceremony. Ansari was earlier India’s ambassador to Iran.
India’s representation was upgraded after earlier plans for external affairs minister Salman Khurshid to attend were dropped. Rouhani, who succeeds hardliner Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, had already stoked a controversy when he had reportedly said that Israel is a ‘wound’ on the Muslim world ‘and needs to be removed’. But the remarks were later denied by Iran’s state-run TV.

Apart from Ansari, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai along with Iraq’s Vice President Khazir al-Khazai and Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi also attended the the oath taking ceremony of the newly-elected Iranian President.  In his first appointment after assuming office Rouhani named Mohammad Nahavandian, a 58-year-old businessman with a doctorate in economics from George Washington University in Washington, as his chief of staff, state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Rouhani in a first address, broadcast live on state television, said that his new government ‘will take fundamental steps in elevating Iran’s position based on national interest and lifting of the oppressive sanctions.’
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