The new Speaker of the Iranian Shura Council, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf rejected negotiations with the United States, describing them as “futile”.

“The new Shura Council considers negotiating with America; the global axis of arrogance to be futile, even harmful,” Qalibaf said in his first major speech.

“The only communication with Washington would be to complete the chain of revenge for the blood of the martyr Soleimani (…) by the total expulsion of the terrorist American army from the region,” he said.

“Our strategy in confronting the terrorist America is to finish the revenge for martyr Soleimani’s blood,” he told lawmakers in a televised address.

This, he said, would entail “the total expulsion of America’s terrorist army from the region”.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been rising since 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a landmark nuclear accord and began reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.

That was followed by the U.S. drone strike near Baghdad airport in January that killed Soleimani, the mastermind behind Iran’s regional expansion.

Days later, Iran fired a barrage of missiles at U.S. troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation, but Trump opted against taking any military action in response.

Qalibaf also harshly criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s administration calling executive affairs of the country “chaotic”. He added that Rouhani’s government is focused on foreign ties and does not believe in “jihadi management”. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his supporters reject rapprochement with the U.S. and insist Iran can solve its problems by self-reliance.

The 58-year-old Ghalibaf is a three-time presidential candidate who lost out to current incumbent Hassan Rouhani at the last election in 2017. His speedy election as Speaker of Parliament was somewhat a surprise, as his name is associated with numerous financial corruption cases.