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Iran’s Khamenei rejects offer of direct talks with U.S.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei greets election officials as he presents his identification papers to cast his ballot in the parliamentary election in Tehran.

Caren Firouz/Reuters

Iran's highest authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday rejected an offer of direct talks made by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden this week, saying they would not solve the problems between them, Iranian media reported.

"Some naive people like the idea of negotiating with America, however, negotiations will not solve the problems," Khamenei said in a speech to officials and members of Iran's aerospace force, IRIB reported.

"If some people want American rule to be established again in Iran, the nation will rise up to face them," he said.

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"American policy in the Middle East has been destroyed and Americans now need to play a new card. That card is dragging Iran into negotiations."

Khamenei made his comments just days after Joe Biden said the United States was prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership. "That offer stands but it must be real and tangible," Biden said in a speech in Munich.

Relations between Iran and the United States were severed in 1979 after the overthrow of Iran's pro-western monarchy and diplomatic meetings between officials have since been very rare.

Currently U.S.-Iran contact is limited to talks between Tehran and a so-called P5+1 group of powers on Iran's disputed nuclear program which are to resume on Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan.

Many believe no deal on settling the nuclear issue is possible without a U.S.-Iranian thaw. But any rapprochement would require direct talks addressing many sources of mutual mistrust that have lingered since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.

Moreover, although his re-election last November may give President Barack Obama a freer hand to pursue direct negotiations, analysts say Iran's own presidential election in June may prove an additional obstacle to progress being made.

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