Senior Iranian officials sent mixed signals in response to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement about bilateral talks between Washington and Tehran. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has indicated an openness to direct U.S. talks. But the Supreme Leader’s representative to the Revolutionary Guards said “accepting talks is like surrendering” to the United States. On November 29, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the United States must do everything “unilaterally, bilaterally, multilaterally” to reach an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. The following are reactions by top officials.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi
“I am not sure what exactly the U.S. State Secretary means by direct talks. If she means political discussions, that is another matter, and the decision-maker on that is the Supreme Leader. But if the meaning is a topical discussion on the nuclear issue, this is already taking place and it is not a very important matter and is moving forward…”
“Discussions on particular topics and in particular situations have already taken place with the United States, including talks on Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, nuclear talks with the P5+1, in which the United States is present, are taking place. But if broad political discussions are being considered in people’s minds, this issue is in the realm of the Supreme Leader’s authority, and the Supreme Leader decides, for example, whether such an action takes place or not.” December 3 to the Islamic Republic News Agency
Hojatoleslam Ali Saeedi, the Supreme Leader’s representative to the Revolutionary Guards
“There will be no success for Iran in talks with the United States, because the strategic issues between Iran and the United States are so broad that they can in no way be negotiated… Accepting talks is like surrendering to the hegemonic system… The U.S. goal is force Iran to surrender from its previous positions regarding the hegemonic system; and to change an uncompromising regime into a compromising one.
When she [Clinton] says that wherever she goes, she sees Iran’s footprints, it means that they will never give up their hegemonic nature. In any talks, they will definitely demand that Iran stop supporting Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian resistance groups, regional movements, and the world’s Shiites.”December 2
Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi, advisor to the Revolutionary Guards
“If Iran and the United States are to engage in talks, these talks will be from a position of honor and not because the Iranian nation is weak or because the sanctions have worked.” December 2
Member of Parliament Seyed Sharif Hosseini
“On the one hand they take a step forward and announce their readiness for talks, while on the other hand, they intensify sanctions... The United States has always followed this double-standard policy and this is the reason that the Islamic republic, which sees U.S. actions clearly, has not entered the talks with this country.”
“The U.S. wants to announce to the world that it is ready for talks with Iran and it is the Islamic republic that is not willing to negotiate. The U.S. has long used this kind of political legerdemain.” December 3