During his first news conference since winning Iran’s presidential election, Hasan Rowhani promised to improve relations with the West and be more forthcoming about his country’s nuclear program, although he maintained that it would not give up its nuclear rights.

Rowhani made it clear that removing economic sanctions against Iran is a top priority and President Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials have responded positively to his election.

Of course Iran’s real power lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but The Wall Street Journal reports that Rowhani is trusted by Khamenei and may even be in the Ayatollah’s prayers at night. In fact, if reports are to be believed, Rowhani has managed to win the support of reformers and conservatives alike. That’s some politician.

The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Rohani, a 64-year-old cleric and lawyer, is viewed as a pragmatic and moderate politician who is trusted by Mr. Khamenei and his conservative circles as well as by Iran’s reformist factions.

After serving on Mr. Khamenei’s policy team for over two decades, Mr. Rohani has some influence with the supreme leader and is likely to have a freer hand than his predecessors to shape Iran’s policies, many Iranian analysts said.

Conservative and hard-line factions that fought and blocked changes by President Mohamad Khatami, Iran’s last reformist president, will likely be more accommodating to Mr. Rohani because of his close relationship to the supreme leader.

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— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.

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