Iran supreme leader backs nuclear talks

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voices support but also pessimism days before world powers meet for new round of negotiations.

    Decisions on Iran's disputed nuclear programme rest with Khamenei [GALLO/GETTY]
    Decisions on Iran's disputed nuclear programme rest with Khamenei [GALLO/GETTY]

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has voiced his support for Iran's talks with world powers over its disputed nuclear programme while expressing pessimism about them.

    "No one should see our negotiating team as compromisers," Khamenei, Iran's top decision-maker on its nuclear drive, was quoted as saying on his official website on Sunday.

    "I am not optimistic about the [nuclear] negotiations but, with the grace of God, we will not suffer losses either," he added.

    A new round of talks between Iranian negotiators and representatives from the so-called P5+1 group of world powers is scheduled in Geneva for November 7 and 8.

    It will be the second meeting since moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office in August. The talks are aimed at curbing Iran's sensitive nuclear work in exchange for a relief from international sanctions strangling Iran's economy.

    The West suspects the nuclear programme is masking a military drive despite repeated Iranian denials.

    "All the better if the negotiations bear fruit but if there are no results, the country should rely on itself," said Khamenei while criticising the US policy of approaching the talks on two fronts of sanctions and diplomacy.

    "The Americans smile and express desire for negotiation; on the other hand, they immediately say that all options are on the table," he said. "We should not trust a smiling enemy."

    Rouhani, who has pledged to improve ties with the West, held a historic telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

    It was the first direct contact between leaders of the two countries in more than three decades.

    Khamenei has backed the newly-elected president's overtures, but criticised some aspects of his UN visit as "inappropriate".

    Rouhani won a landslide victory in June 14 presidential elections.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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