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Supreme Leader Khamenei: No Broader Engagement with United States

Al Monitor reported today that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, publicly rejected the idea that engagement with the West in nuclear talks could lead to any closer relations with the United States.

Speaking to foreign diplomats as well as officials form Iran’s foreign ministry, Khamenei said [1] that engagement with the United States beyond the nuclear issue could cause “harm.”

According to Khamenei.ir, in response to President Hassan Rouhani’s recent speech in which he said Iran would engage with the world, the supreme leader said, “There are two exceptions in this: the Zionist regime and America.” He explained, “Relations with America and negotiations with this country — other than on specific matters — not only do not have any benefit, but have harm. And what wise person would pursue something without benefits?”

Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Some would pretend that if we sit at the negotiation table with America, many of our problems would be solved. But we knew this wasn’t so, and the cases of the last year once again proved this reality.”

Khamenei’s view of engagement is diametrically opposed to that of President Barack Obama. Last year, Obama articulated a vision of continued engagement with Iran [2] as a consequence of the nuclear talks, when he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The United States and Iran have been isolated from one another since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. This mistrust has deep roots. …

I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight — the suspicions run too deep. But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

Khamenei’s Twitter account reinforced the main point of today’s speech.

[Photo: Sonia Sevila / WikiCommons [11] ]