Iran's new president, Hassan Rohani, has taken the oath of office before the country's parliament. Iranian lawmakers and high-ranking officials and the representatives of more than 50 countries attended Rohani's inauguration ceremony in Tehran on August 4.
"In the presence of the holy Koran and before the Iranian nation, I swear to the omnipotent God to safeguard the official religion of the country and the Islamic republic, as well as the country's constitution," Rohani said.
Foreign dignitaries attending the event included former European Union foreign-policy chief Javier Solana and the presidents of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan, as well as senior North Korean official Kim Yong Nam.
Rohani, 64, was elected on June 12 and formally endorsed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on August 3.
During the ceremony, Rohani unveiled the nominees for his new cabinet, including former UN Ambassador Mohammad Javad Zarif as foreign minister and former Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh to return to the post.
The nominees have to be approved by parliament. Speaker of parliament Ali Larijani said lawmakers would review the cabinet nominations next week.
There was not one female nominee for any ministerial post in Rohani's future cabinet. Rohani, however, said providing equal rights and opportunities for women will be a priority of his government.
"People want change, development, and improvement. People don't want poverty and discrimination," Rohani said.
"The fight against corruption and discrimination will be one of the key priorities of the government. All government bodies, agencies, and officials should work together to begin a serious campaign against corruption and inequality."
Rohani, a former chief nuclear negotiator, did not mention Iran's disputed nuclear program in his inauguration speech. However, he did mention sanctions imposed on his country over the nuclear program.
Rohani said dialogue was the only way to interact with Iran. "I state it clearly: if you want an appropriate response, speak with the language of respect with Iran, not with the language of sanctions," he said.
Meanwhile, the United States said Rohani's inauguration "presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community's deep concerns over Iran's nuclear program."
In a statement, the White House said Rohani would find "a willing partner" in the United States if his government decided "to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution" to the nuclear issue.
Under Iran's constitution, it was the endorsement by Khamenei on August 3 that marked the formal start of Rohani's four-year term of office.
At that event, Khamenei kissed Rohani on the cheek and the new president kissed the Islamist leader on his lapel.
Rohani said in his speech on August 3 that Iran must avoid what he termed a "radical course" and follow a "moderate one," which would lead to "prosperity and progress."
He said Iranians needed to become more productive in agriculture and industry to stimulate the Iranian economy.
At the same time, he said the Iranian government would take "new steps in elevating Iran's position in the international arena based upon national interests" and the goal of getting international sanctions against Iran lifted.
"The country is in need of a national resolve that moves away from the extreme and extremism in policymaking and governance and focuses on the rule of law and upholding the law," Rohani said.
"The dialogue and plan that was set out during the elections and received a majority vote was this -- moderation and tolerance. This is the shared aspiration of all the social and political groups, to also safeguard the great achievements of the Islamic revolution and respect the efforts of the governments that followed," he continued. "And to also address the concerns of the country and the shortcomings and the limited opportunities the people are suffering in the current situation."
Khamenei called Rohani's election to the presidency a message "of loyalty to the [Islamic] revolution, hope in the establishment...and trust in individuals determined to add to its success and reduce problems" in Iran.
Khamenei also said Rohani "hails from the clerical stronghold, which has confronted the enemies" -- a term he used to describe the Western countries that have imposed sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
"I want to say that regarding these pressures by the enemy -- it is correct to say that they bring difficulty to the people, but they also bring valuable experience both to officials and to the people," Khamenei said.
"The big lesson that we have learnt through these economic pressures is that we should rely on domestic production as far as we can, as much as we can, we should not set our hearts on the outside, those that pin their hopes on the outside world and outside of the nation of Iran, will eventually face problems."
Rohani succeeds Mahmud Ahmadinejad, whose double-term presidency was marked by a disputed reelection in 2009 and a brutal crackdown on dissent.
In related news, state media reported on August 4 that Rohani has made his first appointment, naming U.S.-educated businessman Mohammad Nahavandian as his chief of staff.
Nahavandian, 58, who holds a doctorate in economics from George Washington University, has been serving as the head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines since 2010.
The official IRNA news agency reported that Rohani made the appointment on after the endorsement ceremony with Khamenei on August 3.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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