Iran's Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, repeated on Monday that Iran
had already held direct talks on with the US on Iraq and Afghanistan
issues in the past.
"Discussions on specific issues… have taken
place [previously] and there is nothing to prevent them doing so again,"
he said in response to remarks made by US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton that Washington was prepared to hold direct talks with Tehran.
Clinton told the Saban Forum on Friday that “Should Iran finally be ready to engage in serious negotiations, we are ready.” She also said that the US was
prepared to take reciprocal confidence-building steps alongside
“verifiable” moves by Iran.
“When Iran is prepared to take confidence-building measures that are verifiable, we are prepared to reciprocate,” she added.
But she warned that “what we will not do is talk indefinitely. The window for negotiation will not stay open forever.”
Salehi added that he was not sure what issues Clinton was referring to
when she raised the matter of direct talks, according to Iran's IRNA
"If the Secretary of State intended a discussion
about the nuclear issue, this [matter] is ongoing..and is going
according to procedure," Salehi said, noting that Iran had held talks
with the P5+1 world powers.
However, Salehi said that if Clinton
"had in mind political talks [between Iran and the US] raised in public
debate, then in this case the decision would be taken by the Supreme
Leader Ali Khamenei, and it is he who would decide whether such a move
would be made."
Salehi made similar comments last month, in
response to statements by Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei
Ryabkov, who indicated that Moscow would support direct diplomatic
contact between Iran and the US to avert an Israeli military strike on
Iran's nuclear program.
Salehi repeatedly pointed to the Supreme Leader as the final arbiter of Iranian policy.
Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.