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World reacts cautiously to Ahmadinejad's re-election

(Page 2 of 3)



Privately, many diplomats at the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog -- said they expected little change regardless of who wound up in charge of Iran's government.

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That is because Iran's main policies and any major decisions, such as possible talks with Washington or nuclear policies, rest with the ruling clerics headed by Iran's unelected supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"On the nuclear question, it's very clear that the ultimate decision maker is Ayatollah Khamenei," said Mohsen Milani, an expert on Iran at the University of South Florida. At best, he said, Ahmadinejad plays a subtle and nuanced role.

"The central question of security or war and peace is not in his domain. It's unambiguously in the domain of the supreme leader," Milani said.

And more Ahmadinejad spells less change, said former President Jimmy Carter. "I don't think it will have any real effect because the same person will be there as has been there," Carter said after meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "I think this election has bought out a lot of opposition to his policies in Iran, and I'm sure he'll listen to those opinions and hopefully moderate his position."

Ahmadinejad's new mandate may allow Israel to briefly deflect U.S. pressure to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state and freeze the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, said Yossi Alpher, a former intelligence official and government adviser.

Ahmadinejad has outraged Israelis and many others worldwide by publicly challenging the Jewish state's right to exist. "The re-election of Ahmadinejad demonstrates the increasing Iranian threat," said Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa said he hoped Ahmadinejad's second term would boost cooperation to achieve peace and rid the region of weapons of mass destruction. "I believe the situation could move in the direction of quieter talks and understanding. Dialogue is the name of the game," he said.

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