Ahmadinejad Backs Direct Talks With US If Threats Stop

Talks Had Been Spurned by Khamenei Last Week

In a high profile speech in Azadi square today, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated his support for direct bilateral talks with the United States, saying he would personally attend the talks if the US stopped issuing threats to invade.

Ahmadinejad and other officials in the government have expressed support for the notion, initially raised by Vice President Joe Biden. The Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected the talks already, citing the threats.

If the threats stopped, this might conceivably change. This seems unlikely, however, as the Obama Administration issues such threats multiple times a month, and seems to feel the need to punctuate any public statements with a reiteration that attacking Iran at any time remains a possibility.

Ahmadinejad’s comments are surprising, as it is unusual for officials to even give the appearance of contradicting Khamenei publicly. While technically they both took similar positions related to ending US threats, the speech may reflect his willingness to speak his mind in the final months of his last term in office.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.