Khamenei rejects engagement with US

Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday accused the US of negotiating in bad faith despite the overtures made by Barack Obama’s administration in recent months.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was speaking on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the start of the US embassy siege, an annual event that often sees protests against the US in Tehran and across the Islamic republic. The US officially severed its ties with Tehran in 1980 after Iran’s radical students took US diplomats hostage and held them for 444 days.

However, Mr Obama, the US president, has advocated engagement with the Islamic regime and insisted on diplomacy rather than a regime change approach.

“As long as the US does not give up its arrogant spirit and threats, the Iranian nation would not be fooled by the conciliatory-sounding words,” Mr Khamenei, who has the final say in all state affairs, said in a speech to hundreds of students.

In recent weeks the US has joined Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in nuclear talks to try to convince Iran to rein in its nuclear ambitions.

Tehran agreed with a proposal made by the UN nuclear watchdog which would allow Iran to get higher enriched uranium from Russia and France after sending two-thirds of its own low enriched uranium to the two countries.

But last week Iran responded with a counter proposal which western powers have said is not considered acceptable.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said on Monday that “this is a pivotal moment for Iran” and insisted that “acceptance fully of this proposal would be a good indication that Iran does not wish to be isolated and does wish to co-operate”.

Without mentioning the nuclear talks, Mr Khamenei said, “Americans on the one hand talk about negotiations, but on the other hand continue their threats and say negotiations should reach the results they have predetermined.”

He added: “They have made some conciliatory remarks in recent times, but whenever they smile at the Iranian officials, we notice that there is a sword hiding at their back,” he said, adding that Iran would not be “fooled by tactical smiles”.

“This is the same wolf and sheep relations which the Imam [Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of revolution] said we don’t want,” he said.

This year opposition supporters are planning to use the anniversary of the embassy siege to protest over their treatment since the disputed June presidential election.

But the authorities have reacted by warning that they will not tolerate any dissent.

“We are announcing that only anti-American rallies in front of the former American embassy in Tehran are legal. Other gatherings or rallies on Wednesday are illegal and will be strongly confronted by the police,” Tehran police said in a statement, IRNA reported.

Tehran’s prosecutor general, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, also called on the armed forces to deal with those who “disrupt security” at the rally.

There are unconfirmed reports that the opposition plans not to go to the US embassy, rather gather outside the Russian embassy in protest at its support for the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad.

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