DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s parliament strongly endorsed President Hassan Rouhani’s diplomatic bid to dispel mistrust at the United Nations last week during a visit which ended with an historic phone call with President Barack Obama, Iranian media said.
The backing from the assembly, controlled by political factions deeply loyal to Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a further sign that Rouhani has the support of the Iranian establishment, though there are some rumblings from hardliners.
Khamenei, the most powerful figure in Iran, has yet to publicly comment on Rouhani’s trip.
Rouhani briefed parliamentarians on his trip, including discussions on Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West and regional relations, the student news agency ISNA said late on Tuesday.
A group of 230 parliamentarians, out of the total of 290, signed a statement expressing their support of Rouhani for presenting the image of a “powerful and peace-seeking Iran which seeks talks and interaction for the settlement of regional and international issues”, Fars news agency said.
While Rouhani’s visit to New York has boosted hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough in talks to resolve the 10-year-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed it on Tuesday as a ruse concocted by a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
The United States, Israel and other countries accuse Iran of using its nuclear programme as a veil for efforts to try to develop the capability to produce weapons. Iran says the programme is for peaceful energy purposes only.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Netanyahu and “the Zionist lobby” were trying to hinder negotiations.
“We will not let Netanyahu determine the future of our talks,” Zarif wrote on his Facebook page.
The next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers is set to take place in Geneva in two weeks.
Rouhani told the U.N. General Assembly last week that Iran was willing to engage immediately in “time-bound” talks on the nuclear issue.