By Ray Fleming

Javier Solana, the Spanish former foreign affairs chief of the European Union, attended the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran at the weekend. He was the only European representative present and probably was there in a personal capacity. The United States and Europe seem determined to be as unwelcoming to Mr Rouhani as they can be yet both on his past record and his stated future intentions he is potentially the best friend they have had in Iran for a very long time.

At the end of last week the US House of Representatives passed new tightening sanctions measures against Iran. The White House said it was unnecessary but did nothing to stop the legislation going through. The timing could not have been worse on the eve of Hassan Rouhani's inauguration. In Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The President of Iran may have changed but the aims of the regime have not.” How does he know that when the man has only just taken office? Shouldn't Rouhani be given a chance to prove his commitment to a more open and moderate country than Iran has been for the past decade? Instead everything is focussed on Iran's nuclear programme but progress towards an agreement on that will also come from a variety of other issues of importance to Iran which are well within the West's ability and interests to cooperate on.

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