The conservative website Khabar Online, close to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani, has reported Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi’s “positive reaction” to the choice of John Kerry as the new US secretary of state.
Salehi stated his hope that John Kerry, by means of his “individual qualities,” can “reform some of the anti-Iranian approaches and policies of the American government.”
Salehi made the comments on the sidelines of veteran politician Hassan Habibi’s funeral ceremony.
Salehi continued, calling Kerry “a recognized face” in American foreign policy, who is familiar with the changes undergone by the Middle East.
The Khabar Online article also states that Kerry advocated “direct negotiations with Iran” in the course of his 2004 electoral campaign for the US presidency.
Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s advisor on international affairs, has denied rumours which have been the object of much discussion regarding his alleged secret visit to the United States to pursue direct negotiations with the United States, calling the rumours a “baseless lie”. As the Reformist daily Etemaad states Velayati was the first to rebut President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments regarding the prospect of establishing relations with the United States on the latter’s most recent trip to address the UN General Assembly, stating that any such decision is strictly the prerogative of Iran’s Supreme Leader. In an interview with Mashreq, reprinted by Etemaad Velayati also called Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney’s performance in the debates “clumsy” arguing that President Obama seems “further ahead” in his approach to Iran.
The story itself seems to be a leak attempting to embarrass Velayati, possibly ‘payback’ for his forceful rebuttal of the president, by individuals close to Ahmadinejad. The rumour was also picked up by opposition website Kaleme and similarly used to decry the disparity between the Conservative establishment’s public statements and private activities. On the whole, both analysts and media outlets have come to the conclusion that the rumour and particularly many of the details do not make much sense and seem inconsistent with the Islamic Republic’s standard diplomatic modus operandi.