Reuters: Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday the Islamic Republic would hold talks with the United States about Iraq to remind Washington of its duty to provide security there. TEHRAN, May 16 (Reuters) – Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday the Islamic Republic would hold talks with the United States about Iraq to remind Washington of its duty to provide security there.
But, in his first public comments on the proposed Iranian-U.S. talks in Baghdad, he said Iran would not hold talks on broader issues until Washington changed its policies, state television quoted him as saying.
“Iran’s policy of not negotiating and having relations with America remains the same until the policies of this arrogant government change,” said Khamenei, who has the final say in all matters of state under Iran’s system of clerical rule.
“(These) negotiations (on Iraq) are only about the duty of the occupier regarding the security of Iraq.”
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had previously said Iran had agreed to talk to the United States about Iraq to help the Iraqi people. Washington has said U.S. and Iranian officials will meet in the next few weeks in Baghdad about Iraqi security issues.
“The (Iranian) Foreign Ministry, at the request of the Iraqi government, decided to remind them (the United States) of their duties and responsibilities … in a face-to-face discussion,” Khamenei said in the comments reported by state TV.
The supreme leader said Baghdad had appealed to Tehran to hold the talks. He added that the United States, which broke ties with Iran shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, had also made a written request for talks.
U.S. officials accuse Iran of stirring up violence in Iraq, a charge Tehran dismisses. Washington also says Tehran is seeking to build atomic bombs, while Iran insists its nuclear programme has only civilian aims.