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Iran's hard-line president-elect says he won't meet Biden or negotiate missile program

Ebrahim Raisi
Posted at 6:27 AM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 13:55:33-04

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s president-elect says he’s not willing to meet with President Joe Biden or negotiate over Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its support for regional militias.

Ebrahim Raisi stuck to his hard-line position on key issues at his first news conference Monday after winning the presidency in a landslide last week.

The United States, which is trying to resurrect Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, had hoped to eventually negotiate a stronger deal that addresses America's other concerns about Tehran.

Top diplomats, meanwhile, report progress at talks Sunday in Vienna as they try to restore the accord, which was abandoned by the Trump administration.

Raisi is described as a protege of the country's supreme leader. Although he won the presidency in a landslide, the election turnout appeared to be the lowest in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Out of over 59 million eligible voters, only 28.9 million voted. Of those voting, some 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, far beyond the amount seen in previous elections.

Raisi dominated the election only after a panel under the watch of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified his strongest competition.

His candidacy, and the sense that the election served more as a coronation for him, sparked widespread apathy among eligible voters.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to Raisi's comments during a briefing on Monday.

"We currently don't have diplomatic relations at this point...so, it's unclear if anything has changed on that front," Psaki said.

She added that the administration is looking forward to furthering progress in the nuclear negotiations between the two countries.