Iran General NewsIran says U.S. failing to correct regional "mistakes"

Iran says U.S. failing to correct regional “mistakes”

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ImageReuters: Iran's top authority said the new U.S. administration was showing no sign of trying to correct its predecessor's "big mistakes" in the region, in comments likely to disappoint Washington as it reaches out to Tehran.

By Zahra Hosseinian and Parisa Hafezi

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran's top authority said the new U.S. administration was showing no sign of trying to correct its predecessor's "big mistakes" in the region, in comments likely to disappoint Washington as it reaches out to Tehran.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the statement in a meeting with visiting Turkish President Abdullah Gul, whose country has said it was working to create "better understanding" between the United States and Iran, Iranian media reported.

In another verbal attack on Western policies, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Gul and other regional leaders that the capitalist system was on the "verge of collapse" as a result of the global financial crisis.

"The liberal economy and the free market have failed," he said in a speech at a regional economic summit on Wednesday.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, initially said it was immune from the global financial crisis. But it is now facing falling revenue after oil prices plunged by $100 from $147 a barrel in July on weakening international fuel demand.

Ahmadinejad also dismissed the idea of Turkish mediation to improve relations with the United States, three days after Ankara said it would consider such a role.

He has previously said Tehran was ready for talks with its old foe but demanded a fundamental change in U.S. policy, and Wednesday's remarks suggested he believed any such contacts should take place without go-betweens.

U.S. President Barack Obama has offered to engage Iran in direct talks if it "unclenches its fist." Last week Washington said it would invite Tehran to an international meeting on Afghanistan due later this month.

WRESTLING DIPLOMACY?

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Sunday — after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and shortly before leaving for Iran — that Turkey was trying to bridge differences between the United States and Iran.

But, Ahmadinejad told reporters, "there is no need for mediation."

Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic ties for 30 years and are now also at odds over Tehran's disputed nuclear work, which the West suspects has military aims.

Iran denies the charge and blames the presence of U.S. forces for instability in its neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, the American government made a big mistake and the stance of the current American government on the issue of Gaza is one of America's other big mistakes," the official IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as telling Gul on Tuesday night.

"The American government is continuing the same previous path and there is no sign of efforts to make up for the mistakes," said Khamenei, who has final say on matters of state.

Iran has yet to say whether it will attend the meeting on Afghanistan, which is facing a growing Taliban insurgency. An Iranian analyst said he believed Iran would take part as it "wants to be recognized as a key player in Afghanistan."

Despite their nuclear row, analysts say Tehran and Washington share an interest in ensuring a stable Afghanistan.

They may also find common ground in the arena of sports.

Six U.S. wrestlers will compete in a two-day tournament starting in Tehran on Thursday and the leader of the group suggested sports could play a wider role.

"To call it simply sports I think downplays what sport can do for international relations," Mitch Hull said.

(Additional reporting and writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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