Hezbollah Congratulates Iran's Rohani: Vote Shows Greatness of Islamic Rule in Area Ruled by Dictators

U.S. takes harsher tone, calling on Iran to cut ties to terror groups as Saudis urge Iran to stop ballistic missile tests

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a public appearance at a religious procession to mark Ashura in Beirut's southern suburbs October 24, 2015.
REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The leader of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah has congratulated Iran's President Hassan Rohani for being re-elected to a second term in office saying the wide participation in the vote proves to the world "the greatness of the (Iranian) people and the Islamic rule."

Iranian state television said Rohani won with 58.6 percent of the vote, compared with 39.8 percent for his main challenger, hardline judge Ebrahim Raisi, according to near-complete results broadcast on Saturday. 

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's comment came in a letter sent to Rohani Saturday in which he praised the "freedom and sovereignty that the Iranian people enjoy in a region where people are mostly ruled by dictatorial regimes."

Supporters of newly re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hold placards bearing a portrait of him as they take to the streets to celebrate his victory in downtown Tehran on May 20, 2017.

Nasrallah was apparently referring to gulf Arab nations that list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Iran is the main backer of Hezbollah and has been financing and arming the militant group since it was founded in the early 1980s.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called upon Iran's president to end all support and financing of terrorist groups now that he has won re-election.

Speaking Saturday in Saudi Arabia, Tillerson said President Hassan Rohani now has the opportunity to end Iran's role in supporting "destabilizing forces that exist in this region."

He also expressed his hope that Iran puts an end to its ballistic missile testing and "restores the rights of Iranians to freedom of speech, to freedom of organization, so Iranians can live the life they deserve."

He would not comment on his expectations following the outcome of Friday's election in Iran, only saying that "if Rohani wanted to change Iran's relationship with the rest of the world those are the things he could do."

Tillerson was speaking at a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Tillerson, who is accompanying U.S. President Donald Trump on his first visit abroad to Saudi Arabia, said that deals worth $350 billion have been signed between U.S. companies and Saudi Arabia during the president's first day in Riyadh that is supposed to bolster Saudi defense against Iran.

For his part, Jubeir said Iran's presidential election was an internal matter and called on Tehran to adhere to United Nations resolutions on its ballistic missiles and to stop supporting "terrorism". He said the kingdom judges Iran by its "actions" not its words.

Syrian President Bashar Assad is one of the first world leaders to congratulate Rohani on his re-election. Assad's government is strongly backed by Tehran.

A statement released by Assad's office said the Syrian president has sent a letter to Rohani congratulating him on the "confidence that the Iranian people gave to him to go forward in boosting Iran's status in the region and the world."

Assad said Syria would continue to work and cooperate with the Islamic Republic of Iran "in what boosts security and stability in the two countries, the region and the world."