TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected any idea of bilateral talks with the United States on Thursday in a speech in which he scoffed at Iranian officials who might consider such negotiations.
A staunch ideologue who has often rejected dialogue with America, Khamenei was apparently responding to a United States offer of one-on-one negotiations between the two countries on a range of topics, including Iran’s disputed nuclear program, a suggestion that Vice President Joe Biden reinforced last week during a security conference in Munich. The Iranian foreign minister said then that he was open to such talks, although Biden noted that they could proceed only if the ayatollah showed serious interest.
The ayatollah’s objection is an edict to which other Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, must adhere, and it comes after several high-ranking Iranian officials, including Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, had said the Obama administration had been taking positive steps toward Iran. Khamenei was straightforward in his speech on Thursday before air force commanders in his Tehran office, which was reported on his website.
He said that while some “simple-minded people" might be happy about the prospect of bilateral talks, Iran had seen nothing from Washington other than the same conspiracies.
“The Iranian nation will not negotiate under pressure," he said. Noting the international sanctions against Iran, Khamenei said: “The U.S. is pointing a gun at Iran and wants us to talk to them. The Iranian nation will not be intimidated by these actions."