Tuesday, 18 June 2013

All is not doom and gloom in the Middle East - as Iran elects a moderate, and Israel's former leader seeks friendship

Reformist-backed cleric Hassan Rouhani won last week's Iranian presidential election, securing just over 50% of the vote and so avoiding the need for a run-off. Rouhani said he had achieved a "victory of moderation over extremism".
Some 72.2% of the 50 million eligible Iranian voters cast ballots to choose the successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mr Rouhani, who has pledged greater engagement with Western powers, said: "This victory is a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity... over extremism."
The USA stated it would "engage Iran directly" to find a "diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear programme".
One of Mr Rouhani's main pledges was to try to ease international sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear programme. Iran has been suffering economic hardship, with rising unemployment, a devalued currency and soaring inflation. For my part I welcome his election - he is clearly the most moderate, reform minded and open of the Iranian leaders. And the fact is that he was fairly elected by a more modern Iran, whose voters seem to want change.

The second crumb of comfort comes today in a wonderful interview with the veteran Israeli Leader, Shimon Peres, who has given a very conciliatory interview on Iran - Israel relations. Asked if Iran and Israel could ever have direct negotiations with each other, he replied: "Why not? The Iranians are not our enemies. We have nothing against Iran."
The full interview is here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/10125968/Shimon-Peres-Israel-and-Iran-could-negotiate.html