Hemmati: I Will Meet Directly with US President

Abdol-Naser Hemmati told Associated Press that if elected, he would be willing to meet directly with US President Joe Biden. Hemmati added that the US would have to return to the JCPOA first, meaning lifting sanctions, without any additional restrictions being added to the existing nuclear deal. Aside from a phone conversation between Rouhani and Obama in 2013, no Iranian leader has had a direct interaction with an American leader since the Revolution.

Read more at Donya-e-Eqtesad

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Politics Centres on Election Banners

Campaign banners of candidates became news on Wednesday. Ebrahim Raisi issued a statement ordering his headquarters to remove his banners saying that they are a waste of money and damage the environment, and requested that donors to his campaign direct their funds to projects that help the people, and not to printing or distributing banners. Saeed Jalili’s supporters, on the other hand, were subject to criticism for creating their own banners through graffiti throughout Tehran. Jalili’s supporters were also blamed for setting alight the banners of Abdol-Naser Hemmati in Qom.

Read about Raisi’s statement at Tasnim
See images of pro-Jalili graffiti on Twitter
See images of burnt Hemmati banners on Twitter

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IRIB Grants Raisi Extra Rebuttal Time, Hemmati Protests

A representative for Ebrahim Raisi wrote to the Election Campaign section of the IRIB, the national broadcaster, asking for addition airtime for Raisi to respond to statements made by Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh and Abdol-Naser Hemmati. The IRIB responded, granting Raisi an additional five minutes in the second debate. Hemmati tweeted in outrage, saying that if Raisi is granted five extra minutes to respond to slander, then he deserves at least 20 extra minutes to respond to false accusations from the “cover candidates”, meaning the five candidates other than Raisi.

Read about the IRIB decision at Hamshahri
Read Hemmati’s response on Twitter

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Hemmati: Zarif is a Strong Patriotic Diplomat

Abdol-Naser Hemmati described Mohammad-Javad Zarif as a “strong and patriotic diplomat”, adding that if the outgoing Foreign Minister does not want to be part of his government, he will always benefit from his advice. In the Clubhouse session, Hemmati positioned himself as a strong actor on foreign policy, saying “interaction (with the West) does not mean compromise” and stating that his first priority was to increase the importation of COVID vaccines to the country. Read more at IRNA

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Hemmati Meets with Hassan Khomeini

Abdol-Nasser Hemmati met with Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, for nearly 2 hours where the candidate discussed his plans for the presidency with the influential figure. Although he did not explicitly express support for Hemmati, the meeting was warm and Khomeini, who withdrew his candidacy at the request of the Supreme Leader, clearly still intends to play a role in this election. 

Read more at Modara

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Guardian Council Implies Hemmati Could Be Disqualified

Following remarks made by Abdol-Naser Hemmati on air in which he criticised the harassment of women for not observing proper hijab, Ahmad Khatami, a senior clerical member of the Guardian Council said Hemmati’s comments went against Islamic rules on women and the veil in public places, and warned Hemmati that he should be careful since adherence to Islam is legally necessary for candidates in elections. Several commentators interpreted this as a threat that Hemmati, who is shaping up as the main challenger to front-runner Ebrahim Raisi, may be disqualified before election day. These commentators linked Ahmad Khatami’s comments to a statement on May 7 by another Guardian Council member, Hadi Tahan Nazif, that candidates can be disqualified during the campaign period if it is determined by the Guardian Council that they are no longer eligible. For his part, Hemmati said that he will not censor himself, even if it risks his disqualification, and he is merely reflecting the views of the majority of the people.

Read Ahmad Khatami’s comments at Didbaniran
Read Hemmati’s response at ILNA

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