(JTA) — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, rejected a U.S. proposal for direct talks between the two countries.
Khamenei was responding to offers from the United States, including last week by Vice President Joseph Biden at the Munich security conference, to hold a one-on-one dialogue on Iran’s nuclear program.
“The Iranian nation will not negotiate under pressure,” Khamenei told air force commanders in his Tehran office, with his remarks reported on his personal website, The New York Times reported.
“The U.S. is pointing a gun at Iran and wants us to talk to them," Khamenei said, referring to sanctions against Iran, including new ones levied Wednesday. "The Iranian nation will not be intimidated by these actions.”
Khamenei’s rejection comes after some high-ranking Iranian officials, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, said they were open to such talks, according to The New York Times. Khamenei’s objection means the issue is closed.
He added, “Direct talks will not solve any problems.”
Iran is scheduled to meet with world powers for multilateral nuclear talks at the end of the month in Kazakhstan.
Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for domestic, peaceful purposes. Western powers believe Iran is preparing to build nuclear weapons.