Kocharian Congratulates Iran’s New President

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–President Robert Kocharian welcomed the election of Iran’s President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s and expressed hope that the ties between the two countries would strengthen.

"Armenia attaches great attention to its relations with Iran. I am hopeful that during your presidency our relationships will continue to develop and will mark new achievemen’s for the welfare of our nations," the message read.

A former Revolutionary Guard commander–Ahmadinejad is unabashedly conservative. As mayor of Tehran–he introduced separate elevators for men and women in municipal buildings.

He is also a loyal supporter of Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is his allegiance to the conservative ruling clerics that is thought to have led Tehran’s city council to ask him to serve as mayor in 2003 when he was the governor of Ardabil province.

During the presidential campaign–he indicated he could not imagine restoring relations with the United States–a point of difference with his chief rival–Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani–who campaigned on a platform of better relations with the West.

Ahmadinejad has called for Iran to reclaim the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Many young people see this as a threat to return to the prohibitions on "un-Islamic" dress–music–male and female mixing and the other restrictions championed in the heyday of the revolution.

One of seven children–Ahmadinejad was born to a middle-class family in Garmsar–a neighborhood southeast of Tehran. As a student–he joined an ultraconservative faction of the Office for Strengthening Unity–the radical student group spawned by the 1979 Islamic Revolution that staged the capture of the US Embassy. According to reports–Ahmadinejad attended meetings that planned the storming of the US Embassy.

He graduated in civil engineering from Iran University of Science & Technology. When Iraq invaded Iran–Ahmadinejad volunteered for military service–joined the Revolutionary Guards and was considered a daring soldier–participating in several military operations deep within Iraq–according to information posted on his Web site.

With the war behind him–Ahmadinejad went into politics. He was first appointed governor of Maku in northwestern Iran–and later governor of the newly created province of Ardabil.

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