World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran's supreme leader gave strong backing on Sunday to his president's push for nuclear negotiations, warning hardliners not to accuse Hassan Rouhani of compromising with the US.
Iran will resume negotiations with six world powers, including the United States, in Geneva on Thursday, talks aimed at ending a standoff over its nuclear work that Tehran denies is weapons-related.
Rouhani hopes a deal there will mean an end to sanctions that have cut the OPEC country's oil exports and hurt the wider economy, but any concession that looks like Iran is compromising on what it sees as its sovereign right to peaceful nuclear technology will be strongly resisted by conservatives.
"No one should consider our negotiators as compromisers," Khamenei said in a speech, a day before the Nov. 4 anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, a pivotal event in U.S.-Iranian relations, the ISNA news agency reported.
"They have a difficult mission and no one must weaken an official who is busy with work," said Khamenei, who wields ultimate power in Iran's dual clerical-republic system, including over the nuclear programme.
Khamenei reiterated previous statements that he is not optimistic about the outcome of nuclear talks but said he saw no downside to holding the negotiations.
"With God's permission, we will not be harmed by these negotiations ... if the negotiations reach a conclusion then all the better, but if they don't it will mean that the country must stand on its own feet," Khamenei said.
He also criticised the United States for continuing to impose sanctions and threatening possible military action. Both Washington and its ally Israel say the military option to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons is something they do not rule out.
"We should not trust an enemy who smiles," Khamenei said. "From one side the Americans smile and express a desire to negotiate, and from another side they immediately say all options are on the table."Last Mod: 03 Kasım 2013, 14:51