Hassan Rouhani says arrest of Washington Post reporter not a sign of internal power struggle
Hassan Rouhani is in New York to give an address to the United Nations General Assembly
NEW YORK — The jailing of a Washington Post reporter without public charges in Iran is not evidence of a power struggle between moderate and conservative political forces, Iran’s president said Tuesday.President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, expressed optimism that the generally conservative Iranian judiciary would “comport itself in a fair manner” in the case of reporter Jason Rezaian and his wife, Iranian journalist Yeganeh Salehi, who was also arrested.
“I do not believe this was something preprogrammed against my administration,” Rouhani said Tuesday. Rouhani called for a “resolute fight” against Islamic State militants but denounced the U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria as violations of international law and unwelcome Western interference in the Middle East. He expressed hope for a comprehensive accord with world powers that would govern Iran’s nuclear program, although prospects for an agreement before a November deadline have appeared dim. Rouhani spoke to U.S. editors and reporters ahead of his address to the U.N. General Assembly this week.
The annual U.N. gathering is the only time an Iranian leader is allowed to visit the United States, and the Shiite power broker and U.S. adversary has routinely used the platform to explain Iran’s foreign policy and tweak American leaders. A meeting with President Obama is unlikely this year, Rouhani said. Such a meeting would be historic after more than three decades of enmity between Tehran and Washington. Obama called Rouhani during last year’s General Assembly and has said he would be open to a meeting under the right circumstances.
Rouhani is considered a political reformer, and he charmed some in the United States last year with cordial political overtures and a pledge to work for better relations. He has at least a limited mandate from Iran’s supreme religious leader to pursue a deal that would curb the country’s nuclear program, which the West sees as deeply suspect, in exchange for the lifting of crippling international sanctions.