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Rouhani’s ‘key’ locked Iran down for eight years: Jalili

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian presidential candidate Sa’eed Jalili (photo by YJC)

Iranian presidential candidate Sa’eed Jalili has attacked a guiding principle of the President Hassan Rouhani administration, saying the incumbent’s opening-to-the-world policy — symbolized in Rouhani’s early campaign trademark of a key, “locked the country down” for eight years.

Jalili, a one-time presidential rival and a subsequent critic of Rouhani, said in remarks delivered on state TV on Monday (May 31) that his approach while campaigning against Rouhani in 2013 had not included making “100-day pledges” or holding up a key to the camera — both references to Rouhani’s campaign practices.

“What I said at the time was that our country has certain capacities, which could be successfully exploited if we have a plan,” Jalili said.

“Of course, other responses [to Iran’s problems] were put forth as well, that ‘Both centrifuges and the wheel of the economy should spin,” and ‘One can smile to the world and solve all issues,’” he said. “For eight years, the country was steered in that direction and was locked down with that key.”

He said Iran must not await favors from those who murdered Iranian anti-terror commander Qassem Soleimani. The United States assassinated General Soleimani in January 2020.

“We believe that a wrong approach and a weak performance cannot take the country to the summits,” Jalili said.

He said that as a former nuclear negotiator himself, he was not inherently opposed to negotiation but “one should not puts all eggs in one basket.”

“It is wrong to say we give concessions and take promises, promises that are not guaranteed,” he added. “All of Iran’s capacities should be activated by the administration.”

Jalili has been a fierce critic of the Rouhani administration’s deal with six world powers that was struck in 2015, which later came to be known as the Iran nuclear deal. The United States, which had been a party to the deal, unilaterally abandoned the agreement in 2018 and started imposing sanctions on Iran and its partners again, effectively blocking Iran’s access to any dividends from the accord.

Formerly, Jalili has said he will enforce a plan to eradicate the efficiency of foreign sanctions against Iran if he is elected president.

‘Sistan-and-Baluchestan should be turned into economic hub’

Earlier on Monday, Jalili said in a campaign video series that Sistan-and-Baluchestan Province, in Iran’s southeast and on the country’s borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, should receive special attention for economic development.

“Sistan-and-Baluchestan is Iran’s gateway to Afghanistan and Pakistan; and should we base our policy on regional economic exchanges, Sistan-and-Baluchestan would have to be a key element,” he said.

He elaborated on a number of steps that he said should be taken to bring prosperity to the economically-depressed province and emphasized that firstly, the officials’ view of Sistan-and-Baluchestan should change. “The right outlook should be this: there are exceptional opportunities in the province that, if revived, would benefit not only the locals but also the entire country.”

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