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Iran's New Parliament Speaker Rejects Talks With US As 'Futile'

Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf delivering his first major speech in parliament. May 31, 2020

Iran's new parliament speaker Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf has said any negotiations with the United States would be "futile" as he delivered his first major speech to the conservative-dominated chamber on Sunday.

Qalibaf (Ghalibaf), a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards' air force, was elected speaker on Thursday after low-turnout elections in February that helped ultra-conservatives dominate the legislature.

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

He also vowed revenge for the U.S. drone attack in January that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Guards' foreign operations arm.

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

This, he said, would entail "the total expulsion of America's terrorist army from the region".

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been rising since 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a landmark nuclear accord and began reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran's economy.

That was followed by the U.S. drone strike near Baghdad airport in January that killed Soleimani, the mastermind behind Iran’s regional expansion.

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

Qalibaf also harshly criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s administration calling executive affairs of the country “chaotic”. He added that Rouhani’s government is focused on foreign ties and does not believe in “jihadi management”. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his supporters reject rapprochement with the U.S. and insist Iran can solve its problems by self-reliance.

The 58-year-old Ghalibaf is a three-time presidential candidate who lost out to current incumbent Hassan Rouhani at the last election in 2017. His speedy election as Speaker of Parliament was somewhat a surprise, as his name is associated with numerous financial corruption cases.

With reporting by AFP