WASHINGTON/NEW YORK - The surprise win by Iran's Hassan Rohani in weekend presidential elections offers a possible opening for resolving a dispute with the United States over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, US officials and analysts said on Sunday.
However they cautioned that the moderate cleric does not wield the power to enforce changes. Iran's most powerful man, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains its supreme leader and sets Tehran's nuclear policy. Any deal with the West would require his endorsement.
The White House said on Sunday the election of Rohani, a mid-ranking Shi'ite cleric and former nuclear negotiator, is a "potentially hopeful sign" if he lives up to his campaign promises to "come clean" over the nuclear program.
The implications of the election for Iran's relations with the West are likely to come up in bilateral sessions this week as President Barack Obama heads to the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland.