Iranian leader rejects US offer of talks ‘at gunpoint’



Agence France Presse

Published — Friday 8 February 2013

Last update 8 February 2013 1:06 am

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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.

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