Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a “tactical mistake” by talking to U.S. counterpart Barack Obama last week, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards said, in the first public criticism by a top official.
Rouhani and Obama spoke on the phone for 15 minutes on Sept. 27, the first time the leaders of the two countries had spoken in 34 years. The Iranian president was on his way to the airport in New York after a five-day trip to attend the United Nations General Assembly, where he said that Iran is ready for an accord with world powers over its nuclear program.
The government “could make tactical errors, like the phone call with the Obama, but these can be corrected and repaired,” the Tasnim news agency cited Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, as saying. If there are “errors made by the officials, definitely the revolutionary forces and their sympathizers will issue the necessary warnings.”
After Rouhani returned from New York, dozens of people tried to block his way, chanting anti-U.S. slogans. They were outnumbered by supporters of the president, according to images on state TV and newspaper reports. Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was at the airport to greet the president.
Jafari said it would have been better for Rouhani to wait for Obama to show his sincerity before making contact. The U.S. has to take practical steps to show it has no hostile intent toward Iran, he said.
“The White House should lift sanctions against the Iranian nation, release Iran’s blocked and frozen assets, drop the hostility and plots against the Iranian nation and admit its right to peaceful nuclear technology,” Jafari said.
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