Iran rebuffs US offer of direct talks

Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei says talks suggested by US vice president would not solve the problem between them.

    Iran rebuffs US offer of direct talks
    Ayatollah Khamenei said US' Middle East policy has been destroyed and 'Americans now need to play a new card' [AFP]

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, has turned down an offer of direct talks made by US Vice President Joe Biden this week, saying they would not solve the problem between them.

    "Some naive people like the idea of negotiating with America, however, negotiations will not solve the problem,"
    Khamenei said in a speech to officials and members of Iran's air force carried on his official website.

    "If some people want American rule to be established again in Iran, the nation will rise up to face them," he 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 made his comments just days after Biden said the US was prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership.

    'Real and tangible'

    "That offer stands but it must be real and tangible," Biden said in a speech in Munich.

    With traditional fiery rhetoric, Khamenei lambasted Biden's offer, saying that since the 1979 revolution the US had gravely insulted Iran and continued to do so with its threat of military action.

    "You take up arms against the nation of Iran and say: 'negotiate or we fire'. But you should know that pressure and negotiations are not compatible and our nation will not be intimidated by these actions," he added.

    Relations between Iran and the US were severed in 1979 after the overthrow of Iran's pro-western monarchy and diplomatic meetings between officials have since been very rare.

    Currently US-Iran contact is limited to talks between Tehran and a so-called P5 1 group of powers on Iran's disputed nuclear programme which are to resume on February 26 in Kazakhstan.

    Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said he was sceptical the negotiations in Almaty could yield a result, telling Israel Radio that the US needed to demonstrate to Iran that "all options were still on the table".

    Israel, widely recognised to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, has warned it could mount a pre-emptive strike on Iranian atomic sites.

    Iran maintains its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful but Western powers are concerned it is intent on developing a weapons programme.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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