Iran's new parliament speaker says talks with US are 'futile'

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Air Force, was elected to the role on Thursday

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf greets members of Iran's parliament after being elected as speaker on Thursday. AFP
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf greets members of Iran's parliament after being elected as speaker on Thursday. AFP

Iran's parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said any negotiations with the US would be futile as he delivered his first major speech to the conservative-dominated chamber on Sunday.

Mr Ghalibaf, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Air Force, was elected speaker on Thursday after February elections that swung the balance in the legislature towards ultraconservatives.

The newly formed parliament "considers negotiations with and appeasement of America, as the axis of global arrogance, to be futile and harmful", Mr Ghalibaf said.

He also vowed revenge for the US drone attack in January that killed Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the IRGC's Quds Force.

"Our strategy in confronting the terrorist America is to finish the revenge for martyr Suleimani's blood," Mr Ghalibaf, 58, told lawmakers in a televised address.

He said this would entail "the total expulsion of America's terrorist army from the region".

Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington have increased in the past year, with Iran twice appearing to come to the brink of a direct confrontation with the US.

In 2018, US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a nuclear accord signed by global powers and Tehran and began to reimpose crippling sanctions on Iran's economy.

That was followed by the drone strike near Baghdad airport that killed Suleimani.

Days later, Iran fired a barrage of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation, but Mr Trump opted against taking any military action in response.

Mr Ghalibaf called for ties to be improved with neighbouring countries and "great powers who were friends with us in hard times and share significant strategic relations", but did not name them.

Mr Ghalibaf is a three-time presidential candidate who lost out to incumbent Hassan Rouhani in the 2017 election.

Mr Ghalibaf also served as Tehran mayor and Iran's police chief before taking up his latest post.

Updated: May 31, 2020 01:18 PM

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