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TEHRAN: Iran stressed yesterday that any decision to hold direct talks with the United States on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme would have to be taken by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The two arch-foes have previously held indirect discussions within regional forums on subjects such as the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq but holding direct bilateral talks would be “different,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters. “A decision on comprehensive, bilateral political talks between the two countries ... is up to the supreme leader,” Salehi said when asked about Russia’s expressed backing of any one-on-one meetings between Tehran and Washington. Deputy Russian foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Financial Times at the weekend that Russia would support direct US-Iran talks.
“We will not have a word against this. Of course, we would hope we would be informed on the content of these arrangements,” Ryabkov said. “We want something that will bring everyone out of this morass,” he said. Speculation about possible direct talks between Tehran and Washington surfaced after Iran, reeling from international sanctions over its nuclear programme, found itself facing four more years with Barack Obama as leader of the United States.
Iran has not ruled out direct talks with Washington but says these will not come overnight.
Salehi yesterday also expressed hope that negotiations on its nuclear programme with the P5+1 - the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany - would resume soon.