Iran Breaks Tradition, Invites Leaders to Rohani Inauguration

Iran is inviting foreign heads of state to attend the swearing-in ceremony for new President Hassan Rohani next month, in a break with the Islamic Republic’s traditions.

“For the first time, Iran decided to invite foreign dignitaries,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araghchi said. All nations except the U.S. and Israel are invited, he told reporters in Tehran on July 23. Iran hasn’t had diplomatic ties with the U.S. for more than three decades, and doesn’t recognize Israel. Previous events were attended by ambassadors, according to state-run Press TV.

The Aug. 4 ceremony will take place a day after Rohani’s endorsement by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in the country. Rohani, who campaigned for more moderation in Iran’s domestic and foreign policies, was elected June 14 to succeed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Araghchi did not say why this inauguration will be different. The move may serve to illustrate Rohani’s pledge to better engage with the world after eight years under Ahmadinejad in which the Islamic republic became increasingly isolated politically and economically.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman are planning to attend the event, Press TV reported. Syria’s Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi, Iraqi Vice-President Khudair al-Khuzaie, and top officials from Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar will also come, it said.

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