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Salehi: Iran already held direct talks with US
By JOANNA PARASZCZUK AND JPOST.COM STAFF
12/03/2012
Iranian FM responds to Hillary Clinton's comments that the US is ready to hold talks if Tehran willing to engage.
 
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.”

However, 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 news agency.

"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.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.
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