(Adds more quotes, background)
DUBAI Aug 13 Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday nuclear talks with world powers
would continue, but added there was no point in holding
negotiations with the United States on other issues.
Khamenei, who has the last word on all matters in Shi'ite
Muslim Iran, appeared to give a nuanced message on the country's
often fraught relationship with Washington.
The nuclear talks, which involve the United States, have
resulted in an interim deal under which Tehran has curbed some
atomic activity in exchange for limited sanctions relief.
"There are no benefits in having relations or negotiations
with the United States, except in certain specific cases,"
Khamenei told a gathering of Iranian diplomats, according to a
statement on his website.
"Of course, on the nuclear front, talks will continue. What
(Foreign Minister Javad) Dr. Zarif and his team started and has
been going well until now, will continue," he said.
Six major powers and Iran failed to meet a July 20 deadline
to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear agreement. The six -
Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -
agreed to extend the deadline until Nov. 24.
"We will not ban them (the negotiations). But this has
become yet another invaluable experience that interaction and
talks with Americans have absolutely no effect in easing their
animosity (towards Iran)," Khamenei said.
"Some people were under the impression that sitting down to
talk with America would solve all our problems. I knew that
wouldn't be the case, but gave it a try due to the sensitive
nature of the nuclear issue," he said.
"Now the events of the past year have proved this hunch to
be true. Not only did we gain nothing out of these interactions,
but the tone of American officials have become harsher and more
insulting," he said.
Last year, Khamenei had called for "heroic flexibility",
giving cautious support to the talks after many years of Iranian
refusal to discuss any curbs on the nuclear work it says is for
peaceful purposes, but which Tehran's critics believe is aimed
at developing weapons capability.
The interim nuclear deal has also come under attack by some
Iranian hardliners who are unsettled by the shift to a more a
moderate foreign policy since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
took office a year ago.
Earlier this week, Rouhani called critics of his nuclear
Concerned by a raging Sunni Islamist insurgency in Iraq,
U.S. and Iranian officials discussed the crisis on the sidelines
of separate negotiations about the Iranian nuclear programme in
Vienna in June.
(Reporting by Mehrdad Balali; Writing by Yara Bayoumy, editing
by and Crispian Balmer)