Ebrahim Raisi: Iran's president-elect refuses to meet Biden but calls for end to US sanctions

Iran's new president is a hardliner and could spell difficulty for its relationship with the wider world

For nearly an hour, Iran’s president-elect Ebrahim Raisi took questions mostly from Iranian media and countries home to militias supported by Tehran. He savoured his victory in a presidential election which many Iranians boycotted, seeing it as rigged in his favour. But he also seemed aware of the need to appeal to everyone across the Islamic Republic. He acknowledged the economic problems faced by Iran promising to address them. But the primary audience he was addressing were leaders abroad. Sticking points include salvaging Iran’s nuclear deal. World leaders want the 2015 agreement restored. It restricted Iran’s nuclear development but was abandoned by the Trump administration.

Raisi’s message today was that as far as Iran is concerned, saving the deal won’t come at any price. He called for all US sanctions to be lifted.

Voters register to cast their vote during the election Credit: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

When he was asked if he would met President Biden he replied, “No.” Asked about Iran’s ballistic middle programme and it’s support of regional militias, he described the issues as non-negotiable. There are also human rights concerns over the hardliner, especially given claims denied by Iran that Raisi was linked to mass executions in the late 1980s. When he was asked directly about this today he described himself as a “defender of human rights.” As leaders of controversial allies such as Syria and Hamas send their congratulations to Iran’s president-elect, the wider world is now faced with the challenge of how best to approach the hardliner.