Fri, Feb 08, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Iranian leader rejects offer of direct talks with the US

Reuters, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses Iranian Air Force commanders in a meeting in Tehran yesterday.

Photo: AFP / HO / Iranian supreme leader’s Web site

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday rejected an offer of direct talks made by US Vice President Joe Biden this week, saying they would not solve the problems between the two nations, Iranian media reported.

“Some naive people like the idea of negotiating with the US, but negotiations will not solve the problems,” Khamenei said in a speech to officials and members of Iran’s aerospace force, IRIB reported. “If some people want US rule to be established again in Iran, the nation will rise up to face them. US policy in the Middle East has been destroyed and Americans now need to play a new card. That card is dragging Iran into negotiations.”

Khamenei made his comments just days after Biden said the US was prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership.

“That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible,” Biden said in a speech in Munich, Germany.

Relations between Iran and the US were severed in 1979 after the overthrow of Iran’s pro-Western monarchy and diplomatic meetings between officials have since been very rare.

Currently US-Iran contact is limited to talks between Tehran and a so-called P5+1 group of powers on Iran’s disputed nuclear program, which are to resume on Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan.

Many believe no deal on settling the nuclear issue is possible without a US-Iranian thaw, but any rapprochement would require direct talks addressing many sources of mutual mistrust that have lingered since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent US embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.

Moreover, although his re-election in November last year may give US President Barack Obama a freer hand to pursue direct negotiations, analysts say Iran’s own presidential election in June may prove an additional obstacle to progress being made.

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