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Khamenei Rebuffs Obama’s Overtures, Calls for “Death to America”

As the deadline looms for a political framework deal between the P5+1 nations and Iran, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei struck a defiant tone on Saturday in response to a conciliatory message offered by President Barack Obama to commemorate Nowruz, the Iranian new year.

In his statement, Obama said:

This year, we have the best opportunity in decades to pursue a different future between our countries. Just over a year ago, we reached an initial understanding regarding Iran’s nuclear program. And both sides have kept our commitments. Iran has halted progress on its nuclear program and even rolled it back in some areas. The international community, including the United States, has provided Iran with some relief from sanctions. Now, our diplomats—and our scientists—are engaged in negotiations in the hopes of finding a comprehensive solution that resolves the world’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear program.

Obama stated that the nuclear agreement presented a “historic opportunity” for Iran and the West to reconcile their differences.

Just two days after Obama’s appeal, Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday called for “Death to America,” The Times of Israel reported:

Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran that Iran would not capitulate to Western demands. When the crowd started shouting, “Death to America,” the ayatollah responded: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.

“They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy,” he said, referring to economic sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program. “What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system,” he said. “The politics of America is to create insecurity,” he added, referring both to US pressure on Iran and elsewhere in the region.

The latest round of talks being held in Switzerland are to resume on Wednesday, leaving Iran and the P5+1 states with only one week to meet the March 31 deadline for agreeing on the outlines of a nuclear deal.

[Photo: A.Davey / Flickr]