Iran leader mostly pleased with Rouhani’s trip

LOS ANGELES TIMESOctober 6, 2013 

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday publicly endorsed President Hassan Rouhani’s efforts to reconcile with archenemy Washington, but indicated his displeasure with some events during Rouhani’s high-profile visit last month to the United Nations.

“We support the government’s diplomatic drive, including the New York trip, because we trust the administration, which is dedicated to serving (the people), and we are optimistic about it,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said at a ceremony Saturday in a speech quoted by Iran’s Press TV news service.

The comments from Iran’s ultimate authority were viewed as an important sign that the nation’s conservative leadership stood behind the new president’s conciliatory approach, despite deep misgivings from hard-liners in Iran.

However, Khamenei said “some of the things that happened during the New York trip were not appropriate, because we believe that the U.S. government is untrustworthy, arrogant and irrational, and one that reneges on its promises.”

While Iran’s top leader did not specify what irked him, observers said he was probably referring to the trip’s defining moment: a dramatic, 15-minute telephone call from President Barack Obama to Rouhani, the highest-level contact between the two nations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the U.S.-backed monarchy. Rouhani promptly blogged news of the call on Twitter, generating headlines across the globe.

The supreme leader’s carefully chosen remarks Saturday, analysts said, probably reflect twin goals: to back the Iranian president while mollifying sectors of the country’s power structure deeply suspicious of Washington, mistrustful of Rouhani and opposed to any move toward reconciliation.

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