Iranian leader rejects US offer of talks ‘at gunpoint’

Updated 08 February 2013
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Iranian leader rejects US offer of talks ‘at gunpoint’

TEHRAN: Iran’s all-powerful supreme leader yesterday rejected a US offer to negotiate one-on-one on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, ruling out such contacts so long as Washington keeps up its threats against the Islamic republic.
“I am not a diplomat but a revolutionary and I speak frankly,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told air force commanders in remarks published on his website. “You (Americans) are pointing the gun at Iran and say either negotiate or we will shoot.”
“Some rejoice at the offer of negotiations ... (but) negotiations will not solve anything,” he said, adding that those in Iran who prefer to risk “American domination” by negotiating with US would be dealt with.
Khamenei has the final say on all key issues in the Islamic republic, including Iran’s sensitive nuclear activities and foreign policy.
His stance appeared to contradict that of Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi who said on Monday that he detected signs the United States was rethinking its approach toward Tehran. Khamenei said: “Iran will not accept to negotiate with he who threatens us with pressure,” in reference to a list sanctions adopted by Washington to coerce Iran into curbing its nuclear program.
“The offer of talks is meaningful when the other side shows goodwill,” he said. “Does imposing, in your own words, crippling sanctions show goodwill or hostility?” Khamenei said yesterday, responding to a new offer of bilateral talks proposed by US Vice President Joe Biden last week.
Biden said at the Munich Security Conference that Washington was open to direct talks with Iran to resolve the nuclear issue provided “the Iranian leadership, supreme leader, is serious.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s state TV has broadcast footage allegedly extracted from the advanced CIA spy drone captured in 2011. Iran has long claimed it managed to reverse-engineer the RQ-170 Sentinel, seized in December 2011 after it entered Iranian airspace from its eastern border with Afghanistan, and that it’s capable of launching its own production line for the unmanned aircraft.
American officials eventually confirmed the Sentinel had been monitoring Iran’s military and nuclear facilities. Washington asked for it back but Iran refused, and instead released photos of Iranian officials studying the aircraft.
The video aired late Wednesday on Iranian shows an aerial view of an airport and a city, said to be a US drone base and Kandahar, Afghanistan. The TV also showed images purported to be the Sentinel landing at a base in eastern Iran but it was unclear if that footage meant to depict the moment of the drone’s seizure.


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
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Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.