Foreign policy tops Iran presidential debates

Foreign policy tops Iran presidential debates
Sat Jun 8, 2013 12:34:32

The third and final round of Iran’s presidential debates has been held live on television, with a focus on the candidates’ foreign policy.

Independent candidate Mohsen Rezaee took the floor first during Friday’s debate, arguing that a strong foreign policy, on one hand, needs to have its roots in a sound domestic economy and efficient management, and, on the other, should utilize the expertize of the best in the field.

Rezaee also pledged to defend Iran’s nuclear rights and put an end to the Western dispute over Tehran’s nuclear energy program in the shortest time possible.      

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf criticized the current status of the country’s foreign policy, saying that managerial approaches to international affairs call for reform.

He said to succeed in foreign policy issues, Iran needs to have a strong government performance.

Qalibaf received a riposte from former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati who said the mayor has failed to take into account that new experts must be trained and educated to deal with international issues.

Principlist candidate Qalibaf also disapproved of the way the former reformist administrations handled foreign affairs and sought affinity with European countries.

Reformist candidate Hassan Rohani countered Qalibaf’s argument, stressing that Iran was spared some international crises under the previous administrations.

Lawmaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel was the next contender who criticized Western states for their illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic over the country’s nuclear energy program.

Haddad-Adel emphasized that solving the issue of sanctions would be a top priority in his administration, adding that a good management and diplomacy backed by national dignity and strength will be the best way for overcoming the sanctions.

Former First Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref criticized the current balance of political forces, noting that the incumbent administration has failed to use skilled forces from all political factions.

Aref said he would prioritize attention to women and ethnic minorities in his policymaking process.

Former Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Gharazi noted that for Iran’s foreign policy to improve, the country needs to boost domestic talents.

“I will focus on [strengthening] domestic solidarity and consistency,” he added.

Finally, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili criticized Iranian foreign policy during the term of the reformist president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami between 1997 and 2005, warning that the Western powers could take advantage of Iran becoming soft.

On June 14, Iranians will cast their ballots at over 67,000 polling stations across the country in the nation’s 11th presidential election. Expatriates will also be able to vote at 285 polling stations that will be set up in their respective countries.

Iran’s presidential tenure lasts four years and could be renewed by another election. The next chief executive will succeed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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