Iran’s hardline president-elect rules out Biden meeting, open to mending ties with Saudi Arabia

Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi ruled out on Monday a meeting with US President Joe Biden but said there were “no obstacles” to resuming diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, Shia Iran’s Sunni arch-rival, which have been severed for five years. Raisi added that he will not allow nuclear negotiations for the sake of negotiations, in his first news conference since winning election last week.

Raisi, 60, won Friday’s election in which more than half the voters stayed away after many political heavyweights had been barred from running and as an economic crisis driven by US sanctions has battered the country.

Raisi, an ultraconservative cleric who heads Iran‘s judiciary, will replace moderate President Hassan Rouhani — whose landmark achievement was a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers — in August.

“Any negotiations that guarantee national interests will certainly be supported, but… we will not allow negotiations to be for negotiations’ sake,” Raisi said of the nuclear talks.

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