DUBAI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad said on Sunday Tehran would not negotiate about its
disputed nuclear programme under pressure, but would talk to its
adversaries if they stopped 'pointing the gun'.
In a speech to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic
revolution, Ahmadinejad struck a more conciliatory tone than
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on Feb. 7 rebuffed a
U.S. call for direct negotiations on disputes between the two
Ahmadinejad does not have the authority to authorise
negotiations over the nuclear programme, which lies with
'You cannot point a gun at the Iranian nation and then
expect them to have negotiations with you,' Ahmadinejad said,
speaking to a crowd gathered in Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square.
His speech, which partly dealt with Iran's policy towards
its 'enemies', was carried live on Iranian state television.
'Talks should not be used as a lever to impose one's
opinions.... If you stop pointing the gun at the Iranian nation,
I will negotiate (with you) myself,' he added.
The U.S. and some of its allies suspect Iran may be trying
to develop atomic weapons capability under the cover of a
civilian nuclear energy programme, a charge Iran has denied.
Many believe no nuclear deal is possible without a
U.S.-Iranian thaw, requiring direct talks addressing myriad
sources of mutual mistrust and hostility lingering since Iran's
1979 Islamic Revolution and the hostage crisis at the U.S.
embassy in Tehran.
On the nuclear dispute, Iran has agreed to a new round of
talks with world powers in Kazakhstan on Feb. 26.
ENEMIES 'WILL NOT SUCCEED'
Tehran is seeking the lifting of sanctions that have slashed
oil exports and helped reduce the value of the Iranian rial by
about half in the last year, contributing to higher inflation
and weakened purchasing power for ordinary Iranians.
Iranians bearing banners saying 'Down With U.S.A.' and 'We
are standing until the end' gathered at state-organised mass
demonstrations in the capital Tehran and other major cities to
mark the anniversary of the ousting of a Western-friendly
monarchy in favour of clerical leadership.
Ahmadinejad did not address the specifics of Iran's nuclear
programme, or of the planned talks, in his speech on Sunday. He
said that Iran would counter the sanctions by increasing its
non-oil exports and weaning itself off crude revenues.
'Today the enemies are trying their utmost to put pressure
on the Iranian nation to stop its progress but they will not
succeed,' he said.
Last week, the U.S. implemented a measure meant to 'lock up'
Iranian oil revenues by requiring them to be credited to
accounts in countries that buy Iranian crude.
Supreme leader Khamenei on Thursday slapped down an offer of
direct negotiations with the United States, saying negotiations
and pressure were incompatible.
Khamenei was believed to have been replying to remarks by
Vice President Joe Biden, who said in a speech in Germany on
Feb. 2 that the United States was ready to hold direct talks
with Iran if it was serious about negotiations.
(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati, Editing by William Maclean and
((email@example.com)(+971 50 698 8495)(Reuters
Keywords: IRAN REVOLUTION
(For an interactive timeline on Iran's nuclear programme, click on http://link.reuters.com/gad76r)
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