Khamenei rejects US offer for face to face talks

Iran's supreme leader says negotiations "will not solve anything," comments come in response to Biden's offer.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
February 7, 2013 12:07
2 minute read.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 521 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Iran's supreme leader on Thursday rejected an offer put forward by US Vice President Joe Biden to engage in direct negotiations regarding Tehran's disputed nuclear program, Iranian media reported.

"Some naive people like the idea of negotiating with America, however, negotiations will not solve the problems," Khamenei said in a speech to officials and members of Iran's aerospace force, IRIB reported.

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"Some rejoice at the offer of negotiations ... [but] negotiations will not solve anything," AFP quoted Khamenei as saying.

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"If some people want American rule to be established again in Iran, the nation will rise up to face them," he said.

On Saturday, speaking at a security conference in Munich, Biden said Iran - which says it is enriching uranium for peaceful energy only - now faced "the most robust sanctions in history" meant to ensure it does not use its program to develop nuclear weapons.

"But we have also made clear that Iran's leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation," Biden said.

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"There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran's court."

To date, fitful talks on Iran's nuclear program have been between Tehran and the EU's top diplomat representing six world powers including Washington. But analysts have suggested that with his re-election behind him, President Barack Obama might have more leeway to take on direct negotiations with Iran.

That makes the year ahead critical for chances of overcoming a stand-off which, if left to fester further, could see Iran approach a nuclear weapons capability and possibly provoking military action by Israel that could inflame the Middle East.

Progress on Iran would also help ease regional tensions as the United States prepares to pull most combat troops out of Iran's neighbor Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Asked whether Washington might consider direct talks with Iran to smooth the process, Biden said, "When the Iranian leadership, Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), is serious.

Many believe no deal is possible without a US-Iranian thaw, requiring direct talks addressing myriad sources of mutual mistrust and hostility lingering since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and the hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran.

Iran has avoided direct, public talks with the United States, though some suggest Tehran would eventually welcome an opportunity to end its international isolation.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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