The IRDiplomacy website, close to former Iranian diplomat and adviser to former President Khatami Seyed Mohammad Sadegh Kharazi, has published excerpts of an interview with Presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani, which is highly critical of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's foreign policy.
Rouhani argues that though the events of the Arab Spring --- which Iran refers to as the Islamic Awakening --- could have changed the strategic balance in the Middle East to Iran's advantage, "some unwise and radical behaviors deprived the Islamic Republic of Iran of using the situation to its benefit."
Ahmadinejad's policies --- including his Holocaust denial and calls to eliminate Israel --- merely led to "increased unity among Iran's enemies", Rouhani argued.
Regarding whether Iran should open bilateral talks with the US, Rouhani said:
The present conditions must be carefully analyzed and, if necessary, negotiation and bilateral dialogue with the US must not be avoided. The first steps should be aimed at preventing the increase of pressures and stopping the trend of the present sanctions. During the next stages, the atmosphere must be balanced until the complete elimination of sanctions.
I don’t believe in negotiation just for the sake of negotiation and without achieving any results. We must have a clear agenda and objective in negotiating with the US.