Radical Leader: New Parliament Will Speed Ties with U.S.
Apr. 14, 1992
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ The leader of anti-Western radicals, bracing for a defeat in Iran's parliamentary elections, said Monday that the new parliament is likely to move toward closer ties with the United States.
Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashemi acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that the hard-liners had lost the election to politicians more desirous of improved relations with Washington after a 13-year rupture.
His faction had used its majority in parliament to block President Hashemi Rafsanjani's efforts to open the door to the West and move away from a tightly centralized economy.
Results from Friday's voting show Rafsanjani's so-called pragmatic faction, known as ''the right'' in Iran, routed the radicals almost everywhere. Initial results in Tehran, with about half the 3,000 polling stations counted, showed 26 of the 30 top vote-getters were Rafsanjani supporters.
In a report that underscored the government's growing self-confidence, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said Monday that eight key opposition figures have been pardoned and released from prison.
The report said they were among 108 ''convicts'' who benefited from an amnesty proposed April 1 by Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, head of the judiciary, and endorsed by Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It did not say when the prisoners were freed.
Mohtashemi said the new parliament was likely to open a new chapter in the Islamic Republic's foreign policy and economic dealings.
''It is natural that Iran's relations with the West, and with the United States, are likely to be strengthened (in parliament) and become more solid than the past,'' he said.
The parliament, or Majlis, is expected to include a number of American- or Western-educated representatives who have advocated improved relations with the United States.
They include Said Raja'i Khorasani, a former U.N. ambassador, and Mohammad Javad Larijani, an former deputy foreign minister. Both have been among the top 30 vote-getters.
Mohtashemi said the policies of the incoming Majlis will run counter to those of the 1979 Islamic revolution and its leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
''From the day the new Majlis is established, a new season in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran will begin,'' he said.
''Naturally, this will have many differences with the country's past, especially with the policies pursued in the lifetime of the Imam,'' he said, using Khomeini's title as supreme spiritual leader.
Rafsanjani's government has called on the 200,000 Iranians who live in self-imposed exile to return to help rebuild the country, devastated in the eight-year war with Iraq that ended in 1988.
But Mohtashemi's faction believes those who passed the hardships of war in comfort elsewhere have no right to return.
The hard-liners also oppose free market reforms, which Rafsanjani desperately needs to resuscitate the ailing economy, and foreign borrowing, which they believe will plunge Iran into a cycle of debt and dependence.