Iranian presidential hopeful signals he’d be willing to meet Biden

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian presidential candidate says he’d be willing to meet with US President Joe Biden if he wins his country’s election next week, though “America needs to send better and stronger signals” to the Islamic Republic.

Speaking to The Associated Press, former Iranian Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati stresses that an American return to Iran’s tattered nuclear deal was key to any possible relationship amid the wider tensions in the Mideast.

“I think we haven’t seen anything serious from Mr. Biden’s side yet,” Hemmati says. “They first need to go back to the (nuclear deal) that they withdrew from. If we see the process and more confidence is built, then we can talk about that.”

Hemmati, 64, is one of the seven candidates approved by Iranian authorities to run for the presidency in the Islamic Republic’s June 18 election. Polling and analysts suggest he lags in the race behind hardline judiciary chief and front-runner Ebrahim Raisi, believed to be a favorite of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Talking to AP journalists at his Tehran office, Hemmati repeatedly says that the signal Iranians hoped to see from the US was Washington’s return to the nuclear deal.

“The Americans have sent positive signals but those signals have not been strong enough,” he says. “If there are stronger signals, it will affect how optimistic or pessimistic we are.”

In this picture made available by Young Journalists Club, YJC, presidential candidate Abdolnasser Hemmati speaks with Iranian state-run TV journalists in Tehran, Iran, June 8, 2021. (Ayoub Ghaderi/ Young Journalists Club, YJC via AP)
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