Iran's Supreme Leader Dismisses Direct US Talks

Iran's Supreme Leader Dismisses Direct US Talks

Iran's supreme leader today dismissed the value of direct talks with the US, his first comments touching on meetings that officials from the Islamic Republic had with Americans dating back to secret talks that began in 2012.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say over all state matters in Iran, did say that nuclear talks with world powers over Tehran's nuclear program will continue.

Addressing Foreign Ministry officials today, Khamenei criticised the US, saying direct talks with its diplomats didn't help reduce sanctions or decrease its animosity toward Tehran.

"Some pretended that if we sit down with Americans at the negotiating table, many of the problems will be resolved. We knew that won't be the case but developments in the past year proved this reality once again," Iranian state television quoted Khamenei as saying. "Americans not only didn't reduce animosity but increased sanctions. They say these are not new sanctions but in fact they are new. Talks about sanctions didn't bear any benefits."

Khamenei called ties and negotiations with US harmful outside of very specific cases. He did not elaborate.

A recent interim nuclear deal with world powers grew out of secret meetings between US and Iranian officials in Oman and elsewhere that began in 2012. That deal saw Iran curb portions of its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of some sanctions. Negotiations continue for a final deal.

The West fears Iran's nuclear program could allow it to build atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, like generating power and medical research.

Hard-liners in Iran are increasingly criticizing Rouhani and the negotiators, saying they have given too many concessions at nuclear talks in return for too little. On Monday, Rouhani offered his harshest criticism yet of hard-liners opposed to making a deal over the nuclear program, calling them "political cowards" and telling them to go "to hell".

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