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Iranian President-elect says he will not meet with Biden

Raisi sat in front of a sea of ​​microphones, most of them from Iran and from countries where Tehran-backed militias live. He looked nervous at the beginning of the comments, but slowly loosened up during the hour-long press conference.

When asked about the Iranian missile program and the support of regional militias, Raisi described the issues as “non-negotiable”.

Tehran’s fleet of attack aircraft dates largely from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, forcing Iran instead to invest in missiles to hedge against its regional Arab neighbors, who have bought billions of dollars in American military hardware over the years. Iran also relies on militias like the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon to counterbalance enemies like Saudi Arabia and Israel, respectively.

When Raisi met Biden, she simply replied, “No.” His moderate rival in the election, Abdolnasser Hemmati, had indicated in the election campaign that he might be ready to meet Biden.

The White House did not immediately respond to Raisi’s statements on Monday.

Raisi, a protégé of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was sanctioned by the US in part for his involvement in the mass executions. His election victory last Friday was the lowest turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic. Millions of Iranians stayed at home despite a vote they saw as being in Raisi’s favor.

Of those who voted, 3.7 million people either accidentally or deliberately invalidated their ballot papers, far more than in previous elections and suggesting that some did not want any of the four candidates. In official results, Raisi won a total of 17.9 million votes, nearly 62% of the total of 28.9 million votes cast.

Raisi’s election puts hardliners firmly in control of the entire government as negotiations in Vienna continue to seek to salvage a ragged deal designed to restrict Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium to 60% of its highest level ever albeit just under gun grades. Representatives of the world powers involved in the agreement returned to their capitals for consultations after the last round of negotiations on Sunday.

Top diplomats from the nations involved in the talks said further progress was made on Sunday between Iran and world powers to re-establish a groundbreaking 2015 deal to contain Iran’s nuclear development that was abandoned by the Trump administration. It is now up to the governments involved in the negotiations to make political decisions.

Raisi’s election victory has raised concerns that it could hamper a possible return to the nuclear deal.

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