Nasr: Iran's presidential elections a 'game-changer' for U.S.-Iran relations

Decisive win by reformist candidate gives Obama an opening

Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, writes in a blog entry for Foreign Policy magazine that a decisive victory by moderate Hassan Rowhani in Iran's presidential elections is a "game-changer" for relations between the U.S. and Iran.

Rowhani, described as a mid-mannered cleric, won 50.7% of the vote in a six-way race to replace departing leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose tenure, The New York Times wrote, "was defined largely by confrontation with the West and a seriously hobbled economy at home."

In an interview with NPR's Melissa Block, Nasr spoke about the significance of Rowhani's election.

"The message is that people of Iran are repudiating the legacy of Ahmadinejad," he said. "And that's quite important; that the Iranian public wants a different direction for the country and that the United States and the international community should not look at Iran through the prism of Ahmadinejad's legacy. ... So there is an opening here and the United States has to give Rowhani more than it was willing to give Ahmadinejad. Ultimately, if we treat Rowhani exactly the same way as we did Ahmadinejad, then that's a powerful message."

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