Iran: Rouhani leads initial count; over 70 percent turnout

Iran has re-elected its president, Hassan Rouhani, in the country's first election since its nuclear agreement with the U.S.

"Our nation's message in the election was clear: Iran's nation chose the path of interaction with the world, away from violence and extremism", he said.

His reelection served as a stamp of approval for the 2015 nuclear agreement that Iran signed with six world powers under which Tehran has curbed its uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of worldwide economic sanctions.

In his first televised speech after the result, Rouhani appeared to openly defy conservative judges by praising the spiritual leader of the reform camp, former President Mohammad Khatami. The election also saw a huge turnout of 73 per cent, forcing authorities to extend polling by several hours.

Rouhani garnered 23,549,616 votes from a total of 41,220,131 ballots that were cast in the presidential election on Friday, he added. On May 20, Iran's Ministry of Interior announced that the incumbent won 57 percent of the vote in the presidential election held the day before, soundly defeating conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who won just 38.5 percent of the public's support.

Today, thousands of people gathered in central Tehran to celebrate Rouhani's victory.

Rouhani, a moderate, was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States, the European Union and other partners, and his first term was marked by an emergent worldwide outreach.

After his re-election triumph, President Hassan Rouhani must now grapple with a fiercely hostile United States and hardliners at home as he struggles to build a more moderate and connected Iran.

In his address Saturday, Rouhani reached out to all citizens, from his supporters to his political rivals and detractors, and asked for their help.

"It's over, Rouhani is the victor", the source said on condition of anonymity.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is saying that the message of Friday's election that gave him another four-year term is one of Iran living in peace and friendship with the world.

Earlier Rouhani's chief of staff Hamid Aboutalebi tweeted that Rouhani had won 60 percent of the vote. Donald Trump arrived this weekend in Saudi Arabia - Iran's biggest enemy in the region - who will push hard for Trump to turn his back on the nuclear deal.

While Trump, a Republican, has harshly criticized the nuclear accord struck under predecessor U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, he has kept it alive while signaling a desire to confront Iran more directly.

He emphasized that the Iranians' decisive vote throughout the country proved that they were "one nation" that had "one administration" and wanted "one president", who would be the president of all people and, of course, serve all people.

Still, the nuclear agreement does still face some opposition from a key player. "The Revolutionary Guards and other deep state organizations will create more problems for him", Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Israeli lecturer on Iran at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel, told Reuters. Combined with President Trump's decision on Wednesday to waive sanctions, Rouhani's re-election will be another sign of continuity for cautious foreign investors.

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