Iran's incoming president Ebrahim Raisi says he won't meet Joe Biden

Tehran is expected to keep current JCPOA negotiation team in place

Iranian president-elect Ebrahim Raisi said he would not meet US President Joe Biden, but called for a full return to the 2015 nuclear deal in his first comments since his election with a landslide.

The US, under Donald Trump, left the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 and both it and Iran have undertaken weeks of indirect talks to try to find a way back.

But Mr Raisi said Iran’s foreign policy will be wider than the deal.

“Our foreign policy will not be limited to the nuclear deal,” he said in Tehran on Monday.

“We will have interaction with the world.”

“We will not tie the Iranian people’s interests to the nuclear deal.”

He said he would support the current talks but would not have “negotiations just for the sake of negotiations”.

When asked about meeting the US President in the future, he said, emphatically: “No.”

Mr Biden would be unlikely to seek a meeting with Mr Raisi, who is personally the subject of US sanctions for human rights abuses including a brutal crackdown on Iran’s Green Movement protests in 2009.

Although he has expressed anti-West sentiment throughout his career, Mr Raisi has softened his rhetoric in the past month.

Iran’s negotiations with the US and Europe have been approved by the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, meaning Iran is unlikely to depart from them under Mr Raisi.

The president-elect also said he would keep his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani’s negotiation team, although his own people are following the developments closely.

Mr Raisi was also asked about Iran’s relationship with other countries in the region.

He echoed a statement from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif last week that Iran was ready to send an ambassador to Saudi Arabia, saying there would be no obstacle to reopening embassies.

Mr Raisi said building relations with neighbouring countries would be a priority.

“I defended human rights as a prosecutor,” he said when asked about Iran’s human rights record.

“As a president, I’m also obliged to defend human rights.”

Mr Raisi’s first press conference ended with him reaching out to the Iranian diaspora.

“Our government is committed to the return of Iranians abroad in all areas. Iranians should be allowed to enter the country,” he said.

Many citizens outside the country are in self-imposed exile, often fearing arrest should they return.

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