Iran's FM says up to Supreme Leader if direct US-Iran talks should be held
Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 3 /Trend S.Isayev, T. Jafarov/
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that the decision whether the U.S. and Iran should hold direct talks is up to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, IRNA reported.
Salehi made the remarks, responding to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks made last week.
Clinton called Iran the hardest issue she has dealt with as secretary of state "because of the dangers that its behavior already poses and the geometrically greater danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose", Reuters reported.
Clinton noted that the U.S. is open to bilateral talks about Iran's nuclear program if Tehran is "ever ready".
Speaking to a group of officials, experts and diplomats from the United States and the Middle East, Clinton stressed that the Obama administration is prepared for bilateral talks with Iran.
For now, Clinton said Washington is working with members of the so-called P5+1 group of major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - to resume talks with Iran about its nuclear program.
"We are working on the P5+1 and making our willingness known that we are ready to have a bilateral discussion if they are every ready to engage," said Clinton, who has said she plans to step down as secretary of state next year.
Iran's Foreign Minister noted that the indirect negotiations between the U.S. and Iran are being held already.
He added that if talking about the broad direct negotiations, then it is up to the Supreme Leader to decide.
"What is the exact purpose of such negotiations? The nuclear negotions are being held with the P5+1, and holding direct nuclear talks with the U.S. is not considered important at the moment," Salehi noted.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran of seeking to develop nuclear arms under cover of its civilian atomic program. Iran denies this, saying its program is for peaceful purposes such as power generation and producing medical isotopes.