As negotiators at Iran nuclear talks labored to make headway, the country’s supreme leader called Saturday for the struggle against the U.S. to continue, in comments suggesting that Tehran’s distrust of Washington will persist no matter what the outcome of the talks.
The negotiations entered their 15th day on Saturday with no indications of major progress after three extensions and four target dates for a deal, and diplomats said it remained unclear whether an agreement could be reached by Monday, the latest deadline.
Iran and the U.S. have threatened to walk away unless the other side makes concessions. Although it was unclear whether Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was preparing the ground for the failure of the talks, his comments were likely to add to skepticism over the outcome at the negotiating table.
Iran’s state-run Press TV cited Khamenei as calling the U.S. an “excellent example of arrogance.” It said Khamenei told university students in Tehran to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.”
Even if Khamenei isn’t signaling that the talks have failed, his comments appear to be a blow to U.S. hopes that an agreement will lead to improved bilateral relations that could translate into increased cooperation in a common cause — the fight against Islamic radicals.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had hinted at just that last week, suggesting a deal acceptable to his country will open the door to joint efforts on that front.
Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met again Saturday, this time with European Union foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini present. Of the chief diplomats of the six countries negotiating with Iran, British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond and Foreign Ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany and Laurent Fabius of France also are already in Vienna. Kerry spoke by telephone to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers have said they will come to Vienna if a deal appears close.
On Friday, Kerry suggested that some progress had been made, telling reporters that the “atmosphere is very constructive,” but stressing that “very difficult issues” remained to be resolved. Since the start of the current round 15 days ago, he has said twice that the negotiations couldn’t be open-ended and warned that the U.S. was prepared to call an end to the talks.
Report by Associated Press.