Rouhani becomes president of Iran, with Khamenei's approval: state TV

epa03812036 A handout photo made available by Iran's supreme leader website shows Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gives the endorsement letter to the new President Hassan Rowhani as ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks on.
epa03812036 A handout photo made available by Iran's supreme leader website shows Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gives the endorsement letter to the new President Hassan Rowhani as ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks on.Iran Supreme Leader Website via EPA

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By Ali Arouzi, Correspondent, NBC News

Hassan Rouhani officially became the president of Iran on Saturday after he received the formal endorsement of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, state TV reported.

Khamenei handed power to Rouhani at a ceremony at the leader’s compound that was also attended by former presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Former President Mohammad Khatami, who was a key supporter in Rouhani’s bid to become president, was not present at the ceremony, based on the state media report.

"I want to restore hope to the Iranian people and fix the economy and get rid of these cruel sanctions," Rouhani said after the ceremony, referring to the U.S.-led sanctions imposed on Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

Khamenei said Rouhani has expressed his desire to seek a "logical relationship" with the Western powers, "and I support him."

Officials in the West have watched Rouhani, who is set to be inaugurated on Sunday, with the hope of more moderate leadership after Ahmadinejad’s eight-year presidency.

NBC News’ Matthew DeLuca contributed to this report.

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