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Mousavian, Iran's ambassador to Germany at the time, was dispatched along with Rafsanjani's son Mehdi to meet then-Crown Prince Abdullah at his summer villa in Casablanca.Mousavian was later a negotiator in the 2003-2005 nuclear talks with the Europeans, and it is interesting that his memoir refers so prominently to his talks with Abdullah as a backdrop to the later struggles within Iran over nuclear policy.This, Mousavian argues in the memoir, reflected a shift in Iran, both over matters nuclear and over relations with the Saudis, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad marginalizing pragmatists such as Mousavian after 2005 .It must be no surprise for Mousavian that Hassan Rouhani, who led the 2003-2005 nuclear talks, identified improving relations with Saudi Arabia as a priority both during last summer's presidential election and at his inauguration. Written off many times, Rafsanjani remains an influential figure in Iran and appears to still be interested in mending fences with Saudi Arabia.Leading Iranian newspapers (including the semiofficial Kayhan) and political figures, for instance Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri, an adviser to Khamenei, have long suggested that Iran has some form of sovereignty over the island.Differences over Saudi Arabia reflect a wider conflict between pragmatists such as Rafsanjani and Rouhani and opponents who are more ideological and nationalistic.
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