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Parliament endorses Rouhani's bid

By Reuters in Dubai and Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-03 07:43

Iran's parliament, dominated by conservatives, strongly endorsed President Hassan Rouhani's diplomatic bid to break down mistrust at the United Nations in New York last week, which ended with an historic phone call with US 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 backing of the Iranian establishment.

Khamenei, the most powerful figure in Iran, has yet to publicly comment on Rouhani's trip.

In the first joint meeting between president and Parliament, Rouhani briefed the lawmakers on his trip to New York, including discussions on Iran's nuclear dispute with the West and regional relations, the student news agency ISNA said late on Tuesday.

Some 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.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the US Senate is unlikely to impose a fresh round of sanctions on the Islamic Republic until after Teheran holds nuclear talks with world powers later this month, lawmakers and congressional aides said.

The Senate Banking Committee had been due in September to look at a new package of sanctions passed in July by the House of Representatives, but now it will not do so for at least a few more weeks, an aide said.

That could create a better atmosphere at talks between Iran and six major nations in Geneva on Oct 15-16.

While the sanctions issue has been slowed by congressional wrangling over the US government shutdown, lawmakers acknowledged that the idea had come up of deliberately delaying new sanctions to improve the mood at the Geneva talks.

Senator Bob Corker, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that US Congress generally remains deeply suspicious of Iran and supportive of tougher sanctions. But he acknowledged that the Senate was under pressure from the administration and others not to squeeze Iran too hard before the October nuclear talks.

Catherine Ashton, European Union's foreign policy chief, made clear on Monday she would prefer US lawmakers and others not to impose additional sanctions before the nuclear talks.

"I would like to get to Geneva with the best possible atmosphere to really have these negotiations," she said.

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