US asks Iran to stop support for ‘destabilizing forces’

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The United States on Saturday said it hoped Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s newly re-elected president, will halt his country’s support for “destabilizing forces”, end ballistic missile tests and carry out democratic reforms during his second term.

“We hope that if Rouhani wanted to change Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world, those are the things he could do,” secretary of state Rex Tillerson said in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was accompanying President Donald Trump.

Rouhani, a cleric who, with foreign minister Javad Zarif broke the taboo of holding direct talks with the United States and reached an international deal in 2015 to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, won 57 percent of the vote in Friday’s election.

He defeated Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and acolyte of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power in Iran’s complex, hybrid system of theocratic and republican elements.

Trump’s administration is likely to keep putting pressure on Iran over its weapons programs, as well as what it sees as Tehran’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East, former US officials and analysts said.