Iran General NewsMiliband: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei must engage...

Miliband: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei must engage with West

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ImageThe Times: Britain is looking to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to reach out to the West over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said yesterday, playing down the effect of a likely election victory for the country's fiery President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Times Online

Suna Erdem in Ankara

ImageBritain is looking to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to reach out to the West over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said yesterday, playing down the effect of a likely election victory for the country's fiery President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

”You know as well as I do that Iran is governed from the top and the top is the Supreme Leader,” Mr Miliband told The Times, insisting, however, that he was not dismissing the influence of Mr Ahmadinejad.

"I chose my words carefully … given the British history in Iran, the last thing I am going to do is start interfering in their election campaign.”

Mr Miliband said multilateral efforts to engage Iran, which now had the backing of the United States under President Obama, represented an historic opportunity for Tehran to prove the peaceful intentions of its nuclear programme.

”There are no excuses left for Iran,” Mr Miliband said. “It can’t say that there is not an offer of economic, scientific, political normalisation on the table and that is why we are at an important time… but this is the best it is going to get for Iran. This is the best opportunity to find a resolution.

”What I think has changed is that you have an American administration breaking a taboo of 30 years saying that the Islamic Republic of Iran is there — it’s a choice for the Iranian people — what matters for the rest is whether it is pursuing a nuclear weapons proliferation programme.”

Mr Miliband is in Ankara, the Turkish capital, for talks about reviving the lacklustre accession process for what would be the European Union’s first Muslim member. He gave effusive support of Turkey’s EU bid, in contrast to his more reticent French and German counterparts.

The next few months should be a time of “action and imagination not hesitation and defensiveness,” he said.

Referring to President Obama’s long-awaited speech to the Muslim world next month, he said that it should repudiate the idea that there is an inherent clash between the West and the Islamic worlds.

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