Iran sought Sunday to calm hardline worries over groundbreaking exchanges with Washington, saying a single phone conversation between the American and Iran presidents is not a sign that relations with will be quickly restored.
The comments by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi appeared tailored to address Iranian factions, including the powerful Revolutionary Guard, that have grown uneasy over fast-paced outreach last week between the White House and President Hassan Rouhani, which was capped by a 15-minute call with President Barack Obama.
“Definitely, a history of high tensions between Tehran and Washington will not go back to normal relations due to a phone call, meeting or negotiation,’’ Araghchi was quoted by the semi-official Far news agency as saying.
Rouhani seeks to restart stalled talks over its nuclear program in the hopes of easing US-led sanctions. Iran, however, has not clarified what concessions it is willing to make with its nuclear program in exchange.
Araghchi also reiterated statements by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said he no longer opposes direct talks with Washington but is not optimistic about the potential outcome. Khamenei appears to have given Rouhani authority to handle the nuclear talks with world powers, scheduled to resume in Geneva in two weeks, and seek possible broader contacts with the Obama administration.
“We never trust America 100 percent,’’ said Araghchi. “And, in the future, we will remain on the same path. We will never trust them 100 percent.’’
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first public comments on the Obama phone call carried a noncommittal tone. “I don’t know, maybe it was the right thing to do,’’ the conservative Baztab news website quoted him as saying on Sunday.
On the flip side, the phone call brought jokes circulating in Iran by text message.
“I know Rouhani called Obama first,’’ read one. “Then Obama told him, ‘It’s better that I call you since you are under sanctions and your call may cost a lot.’’’