WASHINGTON – Soon after finally agreeing to another round of negotiations with world powers, Iran slapped down American overtures Thursday for one-on-one talks.

“Some naive people like the idea of negotiating with America. However, negotiations will not solve the problem,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech quoted on his official website.

His remarks followed an offer that US Vice President Joe Biden made this weekend at a security conference in Munich, that the two countries hold bilateral contacts on the side of the next meeting of the socalled P5+1, or the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

Those talks were announced Tuesday as scheduled to take place in Kazakhstan at the end of February. The West has been trying for months to arrange another round of diplomatic negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

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“If some people want American rule to be established again in Iran, the nation will rise up to face them,” Khamenei said. “American 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’s harsh response also came as America was tightening the financial screws against Iran, with new measures on Wednesday making it harder for Iranians to receive payments for oil exports.

At the same time, the US has been careful to leave open the door to diplomacy. US President Barack Obama is widely seen as interested in a strong diplomatic push before Iran reaches a threshold for building a nuclear bomb – something Israel has indicated is a red line that could be breached by late spring or early summer, greatly enhancing the likelihood of military force being used against Tehran.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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