Iranian leader expresses little hope for direct talks with U.S.

In a meeting with Iran’s air force commanders Thursday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that direct talks between Iran and the United States will not solve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

“I’m not a diplomat, I’m a revolutionary, and speak frankly and directly,” said Khamenei, according to a report by Iran's Mehr News agency. “You Americans have pointed guns toward Iran, but at the same time you want to negotiate. The Iranian nation will not be intimidated by these actions.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what impact Khamenei’s remarks would have on a fresh round of negotiations scheduled for Feb. 26 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, involving Iran and the P5-plus-1 group, which consists of the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have in recent days signaled hope for some progress in the upcoming talks.

But Khamenei, in his remarks to the air force commanders, focused only on the United States, and sounded pessimistic.

“Those newcomers to the U.S. foreign policy scene are repeating the negotiation issues like previous administrations, and they say the ball is in Iran’s court. The ball is really in the U.S.’s court and you have to reply,” Khamenei said. “Negotiations with threats and without good intentions have no meaning.”

Jason Rezaian has been The Post’s correspondent in Tehran since 2012. He was previously a freelance writer based in Tehran.

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