US State Department
US State DepartmentiStock

The United States said on Saturday it regretted the fact that Iranians were not able to participate in a "free and fair electoral process" in the country's presidential election, AFP reported.

In the first reaction from Washington to ultraconservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi's election win, a State Department spokesperson said "Iranians were denied their right to choose their own leaders in a free and fair electoral process."

At the same time, the spokesperson stressed that the United States will nonetheless continue indirect talks with Iran on the US rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal.

The State Department spokesperson said the indirect talks in Vienna between the US and Iran had made "meaningful progress" and that Washington wanted to build on this.

"We will continue discussions along with our allies and partners on a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," the spokesperson added, according to AFP.

Raisi is seen as close to 81-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate political power in Iran.

Raisi, a hard-line cleric, was a member of the 1988 “death committees,” which were responsible for the extrajudicial executions of thousands of people, and has been called the “butcher of Tehran.”

He won 62% of the vote in Friday’s election. However, voter turnout was just 48% - a historic low for a presidential election in Iran.

Raisi was seen as the favorite to win the election, particularly after two candidates dropped out on the last day of campaigning.

Seven candidates, five of them ultraconservatives, had been approved for Friday’s election. The Guardian Council, which is in charge of vetting presidential candidates, disqualified several prominent figures from standing for election, including long-time parliament speaker Ali Larijani.