SUMMARY: The Tehran Friday Prayer gave renewed support to President Rouhani’s engagement with the “West”, as Hojatoleslam Seddiqi called on Presidents Rouhani and Obama to “join hands”.
Seddiqi said, “The presidents of Iran and the United States should join hands and end these cruel sanctions, which have not only harmed the Iranian nation but also the American and the European nations.”
However, the most telling remark came in the introduction to the Prayer. Former Minister of Culture Hossein Saffar Harandi was greeted by chants from the audience of “Death in America”, a feature of the Prayer for 34 years.
This time, however, there was a twist: Saffar Harandi chided those who were shouting and told them to stop.
And there is a further signal this morning of the regime’s support for the approach to Washington. State outlet Press TV features the remarks of a US official — and does so positively.
The site quotes an interview by the State Department’s Alan Eyre to an Azerbaijani news agency, “[President] Obama has said that he’s interested in peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear issue.”
Press TV then emphasizes, “Eyre added that the United States respects Iran’s ‘peaceful nuclear rights’ as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Earlier in the week, the reformist newspaper Shargh had broken the informal ban on postive headlines for Washington’s representatives with a front-page interview with Eyre, the State Department’s leading Persian-speaking official.
Supreme Leader: “I Support Rouhani But Some Developments in New York Were Not Fitting”
Is the Supreme Leader distancing himself from President Rouhani’s engagement of the West?
Ayatollah Khamenei spoke on Saturday about Rouhani’s five-day stay in New York last week, including a speech at the United Nations, “We support the government’s diplomatic movements and place importance on diplomatic efforts, and support what was in this last trip.”
However, the Supreme Leader then added, “Of course, in our opinion some of what occurred in the New York trip was not fitting.”
Khamenei did not explain further but said, “America’s government is untrustworthy.”
Rafsanjani Continues Push for Rapprochement with Saudi Arabia
Earlier this week, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani put out the clear signal for a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, as his website featured the headline, “Is An Iran-Saudi Alliance on the Way?” and a photograph of Rafsanjani in the 1990s with Saudi King Fahd.
King Abdullah has invited Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani to Hajj [the pilgrimage to Mecca] this year….
It is still not clear what answer the Ayatollah will give to the invitation. You must wait. Anything is possible.
The important point that interested me was that King Abdullah, who has a personal relationship with and confidence in Hashemi, wrote a very unique and emotional expression at the bottom of the letter.
The King signed: “Your Brother Abdullah. You must well know the strength of this trust. Alas, some do not know.”
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