The Iranian presidential elections held on Friday have thrown up moderate Hassan Rowhani a clear winner bagging over 50 percent of the total votes cast (36.7 million), outpacing his nearest rival Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf by a three-times high margin. Interestingly, the hardline negotiator Saeed Jalili, who is 100 percent against détente with Iran’s foes, could barely secure the backing of 11 percent of the voters and came a distant third in the race. According to the Interior Minister, as many as 72.7 percent of the electorate came out to cast their ballot.Hoiateslam Rowhani was what Iran needed most at the helm in this hour of harsh economic sanctions. Outgoing President Mehmoud Ahmadinejad had antagonised much of the Western world by his hardline rhetoric and inflexible policies. Although the President and his team have, under the Iranian system of governance, to follow the line given by the Supreme Leader, at present in the person of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it would be a fair assumption to say that Rowhani would not go out of the way to further alienate his country from the West. It is not likely that Tehran would now be displaying verbal pyrotechnics like the "annihilation of Israel is at hand", as President Ahmedinejad was wont to do. One should not be surprised if the incoming President enjoyed the full backing of the top clergy in power, with the obvious aim of assuaging the West’s anger. Rowhani termed his win “a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity” and called upon the world powers to treat Iran with respect. The Western reaction was quick and positive, though laced with the condition that Iran would have to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear programme and on that stipulation, a White House statement said, the US was prepared to engage with it directly. Both France and Britain have added another rider, saying that it would have to give up its support for the Syrian regime.But whether the changed political scenario in Tehran would really make for a breakthrough in its relations with the US and the rest is a difficult question to answer. The Iranians do not seem likely to abandon their cherished nuclear pursuit – something that the US is not going to countenance at all. Therefore, the little hope of improvement in relations that Rowhani’s election might have inspired would, sooner or later, fade away and things might get worse. Nevertheless, one would very much like to wish that the two sides are able to reach some compromise under which Iran could pursue its legitimate goal of nuclear capability for peaceful purposes.