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Who are the contenders in Iran’s presidential race? What are their takes on foreign policy?

Iran is all set to hold its presidential elections on Friday, 28 June. As many as six candidates are in the fray for the coveted position. We take a look at who the candidates are, and what their foreign policy stand is, especially when it comes to the US, Israel, and Russia

Saeed Jalili: Looking towards Latin America, Africa Saeed Jalili, a 58-year-old hardliner and former senior nuclear negotiator, advocates for a stringent stance against the West. Jalili’s approach to foreign policy appears focused on self-reliance and resistance to Western pressure. He believes in making adversaries regret sanctioning Iran through robust economic measures. Jalili has proposed enhancing economic ties with Latin American and African nations to counteract sanctions, a strategy aimed at “neutralising” US influence. He maintains that Iran does not need to negotiate over its nuclear program, a stance that has kept him at odds with Western diplomats since 2007. He is also advocating for alternative trade mechanisms, such as barter systems.
Saeed Jalili: Looking towards Latin America, Africa Saeed Jalili, a 58-year-old hardliner and former senior nuclear negotiator, advocates for a stringent stance against the West. Jalili’s approach to foreign policy appears focused on self-reliance and resistance to Western pressure. He believes in making adversaries regret sanctioning Iran through robust economic measures. Jalili has proposed enhancing economic ties with Latin American and African nations to counteract sanctions, a strategy aimed at “neutralising” US influence. He maintains that Iran does not need to negotiate over its nuclear program, a stance that has kept him at odds with Western diplomats since 2007. He is also advocating for alternative trade mechanisms, such as barter systems.
This combination of photos shows Iranian June 28, presidential candidates Masoud Pezeshkian, lawmaker and a former Health Minister, top left, Saeed Jalili, former senior nuclear negotiator, top center, Alireza Zakani, Tehran Mayor, top right, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, Parliament Speaker, bottom left, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, the late President Raisi’s Vice-President, bottom center, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, a former Minister of Justice. File image/AP

Iran is heading to the polls on Friday. The 28 June elections will lead to a new President coming in power, after the sudden death of former head of the government, Ebrahim Raisi.

The candidates in the fray predominantly consist of anti-US hardliners, largely in line with the country’s foreign policy that was focused on diminishing Washington’s influence in the Middle East while projecting power through regional armed groups like Hezbollah.

We tell you what the foreign policy perspective of each contender.

Masoud Pezeshkian is the sole reformist candidate in the elections, advocating for improved relations with the United States. He has criticised his conservative rivals for damaging Iran’s economy by not reviving the nuclear deal (formally known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with the West. Former foreign minister Javad Zarif is Pezeshkian’s foreign policy adviser. The support of Zarif, who was instrumental in negotiating the nuclear deal under President Hassan Rouhani, is a clear sign of Pezeshkian’s willingness to engage with the West.

The candidate has suggested reviewing Iran’s relations with Russia, arguing that eastern powers should not see Iran as their only option. This hints towards a policy of diversification of Iran’s international alliances rather than relying solely on Russia and China. Pezeshkian’s stance suggests a potential return to diplomatic negotiations aimed at lifting sanctions and improving economic conditions.

Saeed Jalili: Looking towards Latin America, Africa

Saeed Jalili, a 58-year-old hardliner and former senior nuclear negotiator, advocates for a stringent stance against the West. Jalili’s approach to foreign policy appears focused on self-reliance and resistance to Western pressure. He believes in making adversaries regret sanctioning Iran through robust economic measures. Jalili has proposed enhancing economic ties with Latin American and African nations to counteract sanctions, a strategy aimed at “neutralising” US influence.

He maintains that Iran does not need to negotiate over its nuclear program, a stance that has kept him at odds with Western diplomats since 2007. He is also advocating for alternative trade mechanisms, such as barter systems.

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