Iran will not speak to US under pressure: Khamenei

Tehran, Feb 8 (IANS/EFE) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top leader, has rejected any type of direct talks with the US under pressure a day after Washington announced new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

“American policy in the Middle East has been destroyed and Americans now need to play a new card. That card is dragging Iran into negotiations,” Khamenei said in a speech before officials and military officers Thursday.

US Vice President Joe Biden said last week that Washington is open to direct, bilateral talks with Tehran on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.

“You take up arms against the nation of Iran and say: ‘negotiate or we fire’. But you should know that pressure and negotiations are not compatible and our nation will not be intimidated by these actions,” Khamenei said Thursday, addressing the US.

Various top Iranian officials earlier had expressed their satisfaction with Biden’s proposal and said that Tehran would study it provided that Washington does not exert pressure on Iran and acts honorably.

The US Treasury Department Wednesday announced new sanctions to restrict financial transactions related to Iranian oil, among other measures.

Iran has been subjected to international sanctions by the UN and the European Union, the US and other countries because of its nuclear program, which some governments suspect is aimed at building nuclear weapons but which Tehran claims is exclusively civilian and peaceful in nature.

–IANS/EFE

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