Tuesday , December 12 2017

Trump win makes ‘no difference’ – America is the same America: Khamenei

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (center), waves to his well-wishers from his car during a public welcoming ceremony for him upon his arrival in Karaj, 21 miles (35 kms) west of the capital Tehran, Iran on Nov 16. Rouhani says his country will remain committed to a landmark nuclear deal with world powers regardless of the US presidential election result. (AP)
In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (center), waves to his well-wishers from his car during a public welcoming ceremony for him upon his arrival in Karaj, 21 miles (35 kms) west of the capital Tehran, Iran on Nov 16. Rouhani says his country will remain committed to a landmark nuclear deal with world powers regardless of the US presidential election result. (AP)

TEHRAN, Nov 16, (Agencies): Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that the result of the US election made “no difference” to the Islamic republic despite presidentelect Donald Trump’s aggressive stance. “We have no judgement on this election because America is the same America,” he told thousands of people during a public speech in Tehran, broadcast on state television.

“In the past 37 years, neither of the two parties who were in charge did us any good and their evil has always been directed toward us.” It was his first reaction to the election of Trump, who during his campaign labelled last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and world powers a “disaster” and threatened to tear it up. “We neither mourn nor celebrate, because it makes no difference to us,” Khamenei said.

“We have no concerns. Thank God, we are prepared to confront any possible incident.” Khamenei pointed to several bitter encounters with different US administrations, including the 1988 shooting down of an Iran Air passenger jet by the USS Vincennes that killed 290 people.

Tehran and Washington have not had formal diplomatic ties since 1980, when Islamist students stormed the US embassy and held staff hostage for 444 days. Opposition to the US has remained a central plank of Iran’s foreign policy, despite last year’s nuclear deal. Iran expects to see “more rationality” on the part of Donald Trump once he assumes the role of US president and leaves behind what was merely campaign rhetoric, an Iranian central bank official said. At a conference in Frankfurt, other Iranian bankers also said they did not expect long-term adverse effects from Trump’s win, even though he ran for president opposing a landmark nuclear deal the United States signed last year with Iran.

“What has been said during the election (campaign) was for the election competition. We expect to see more rationality on the position that Trump is going to take after becoming president,” Iranian Central Bank Vice Governor Peyman Ghorbani told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference. “The (US) administration will come to the point that they have to honour the (agreement) and that’s the only right way forward,” he said. Vali Zarrabieh, chairman of Tehranbased Saman Bank, agreed and said he expected Trump to decide on a pragmatic Iran policy, beneficial to the American people.

“Trump is at the end of the day a businessman … I don’t see major issues coming up.” Trump, who assumes office on Jan 20, has made contradictory statements on Iran, making it unclear how he will act. The 2015 deal allowed sanctions imposed on Iran by the West over its nuclear programme to be lifted, but European banks are still reluctant to finance deals out of fear they could run afoul of existing US sanctions and incur massive penalties down the line.

Ghorbani said the central bank saw no reason for companies to be afraid of coming to Iran and that sooner or later banks would thaw towards doing business again. “Sooner or later the big European banks will come to the understanding that they have to break the ice and start to work with Iran,” he said, lauding Total’s “smart” decision to return to the country in a deal signed earlier this month.

Lenders such as BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank or Commerzbank have paid billions of dollars to settle allegations of breaching Western sanctions, putting off other big financial institutions from renewing ties with Iran. The Frankfurt conference was attended by plenty of representatives of the Iranian financial services groups and advisors, but hardly any German bankers.

Saman Bank’s Zarrabieh said that he was talking to all large European banks about possibly doing business. “… but it is very difficult for them to ringfence their Iran business, to create Chinese walls in order not to touch US dollars or a US person and that makes it very difficult for very large banks to run these operations,” he said.

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