Former Iranian leader rejects deadline

Rafsanjani tells Western nations "not to find fault," says "let wise people sit down and talk."

rafsanjani 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
rafsanjani 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran's former president, the cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, told the international community on Friday that he rejected any deadline to respond to an incentives package designed to persuade Teheran to give up its nuclear enrichment program. According to the AFP, Rafsanjani admonished Western powers to "not try to find fault," but to "be patient and let wise people sit down and talk." He made his statements in a sermon after Friday prayers, and his speech was broadcast on Iran's state radio. "Iran is ready to go there and talk - say whatever you have to say [during negotiations]," Rafsanjani declared. "Now that negotiations are supposed to be held, why are you setting deadlines and giving ultimatums?" the head of two of the top clerical bodies in Iran asked. After talks in Geneva last Saturday with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and US Undersecretary of State William Burns ended without an agreement, Iran was given a two-week deadline to respond to the Western nations' offer. The UN has warned that it will take "punitive measures" if Iran persists with its nuclear enrichment activities. Currently, Teheran is under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear program.