Reuters: A senior Iranian official on Sunday dismissed comments by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei might be prepared to allow talks with the United States. TEHRAN, April 29 (Reuters) – A senior Iranian official on Sunday dismissed comments by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei might be prepared to allow talks with the United States.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told the official IRNA news agency he and Solana had not discussed Iran’s relations with the United States during their talks in Turkey last week on the atomic standoff between Tehran and the West.
On Friday, a day after that meeting, Solana urged the United States to speak directly to Iran over its nuclear programme, saying he was sure Tehran was ready for such discussions.
Asked if he believed Khamenei was ready to allow talks with the United States, Solana at a public discussion in Brussels said: “I say without any hesitation, yes.”
Larijani told IRNA; “I saw his comments in news reports. If he has said so this would be surprising since such an issue was not discussed in the meeting and his impression is wrong.”
Under Iran’s system of clerical rule, Khamenei has the final say on nuclear and other policy issues.
Washington has not had formal diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980, when it cut ties after the Iranian Islamic revolution and the holding of U.S. hostages.
It accuses Iran of destabilising Iraq, a charge Iran denies, and the two countries are also at odds over the nuclear issue.
The United States has made clear it will only deal with Iran on its nuclear programme when Tehran halts its most sensitive work — uranium enrichment, which can be used to fuel power stations or make atomic weapons.
But U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki are expected to attend a meeting in Egypt next week to discuss ending the Iraq violence.
The U.S. State Department has said Rice is open to direct talks with Iran over Iraq. Iraq’s foreign minister said on Sunday there was a “high possibility” Iran and the United States would hold bilateral talks at the Egypt meeting.