Khamenei says Iranian economy yet to gain from foreign business visits

 10 Mar 2016 - 18:04

Khamenei says Iranian economy yet to gain from foreign business visits
A handout picture released on March 10, 2016 by the official website of the Centre for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him (R) speaking with (L to R) Judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during a meeting with members of Assembly of Experts in Tehran. AFP PHOTO / HO / KHAMENEI.IR


By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
DUBAI: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday Iran’s economy had not yet benefited from the Western delegations visiting Iran as they had failed to deliver on their promises.
“We haven’t seen anything tangible from these delegations visiting Iran ... We are expecting to see some real improvements. Promises on paper have no value,” Khamenei said in a meeting with members of the Assembly of Experts, according to state television.
Hardline allies of Khamenei, wary of losing their grip in power, have criticised multi-billion-euro deals with European multinationals since a nuclear deal was reached with six major powers in 2015.
The deal led to lifting of sanctions in January in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme. Pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani has been trying to revive Iran’s sanction-hit economy by attracting foreign investment.
Many trade delegations, including Europeans, have visited Iran since the deal was reached, paving the ground to increase economic ties. Rouhani signed a raft of deals when he travelled to France and Italy in January.
Khamenei also praised the high turnout of 62 percent in two crucial elections of parliament and Assembly of experts last month, but warned about efforts by Iran’s “enemies’ to infiltrate.
“We have been harmed by the West and we should not forget it. I am not suggesting cutting ties with them but we should be careful,” he said.
Rouhani’s allies won a big vote of confidence in Feb. 26 elections in both bodies, currently dominated by hardliners, despite mass disqualification of prominent reformists and many moderates by a hardline watchdog body.
The grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, was also barred by the Guardian Council from entering the race for the Assembly of Experts.  Hassan Khomeini backed Rouhani’s in 2013 presidential election.
The nuclear deal, championed by Rouhani and supported by the leader, has ended Iran’s decades of economic and political isolation.
Rouhani and his allies have signalled the government’s willingness to improve ties with “the Great Satan” and to discuss the regional crisis with the United States.
But Khamenei repeated his stance, saying: “We must have relations with the world but not with America and the Zionist regime (Israel).”
Analysts said the new parliament, which will start work on May 27, could hasten Rouhani’s drive to open Iran to foreign trade and investment and loosen some of the legal shackles on economic activity.
Rouhani and his allies, including veteran pro-reform former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, won a stunning 15 out of the 16 Tehran seats in the 88-member Assembly of Experts, which selects Iran’s supreme leader. Khamenei is 76 and underwent prostate surgery in 2014.
Two key hardliners including the speaker of the powerful clerical body were ousted. Khamenei said a “revolutionary person should be chosen as the head of the Assembly”, when the new assembly starts work on May 27.