DUBAI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday Tehran would not negotiate about its disputed nuclear programme under pressure, but would talk to its adversaries if they stopped “pointing the gun”.
In a speech to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad struck a more conciliatory tone than Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on Feb. 7 rebuffed a U.S. call for direct negotiations on disputes between the two countries.
Ahmadinejad does not have the authority to authorise negotiations over the nuclear programme, which lies with Khamenei.
The U.S. and some of its allies suspect Iran may be trying to develop atomic weapons capability under the cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme, a charge Iran has denied.
“You cannot point a gun at the Iranian nation and then expect them to have negotiations with you,” Ahmadinejad said, speaking to a crowd gathered in Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square.
His speech, which partly dealt with Iran’s policy towards its ‘enemies’, was carried live on Iranian state television.
“Talks should not be used as a lever to impose one’s opinions.”
He added: “If you stop pointing the gun at the Iranian nation, I will negotiate (with you) myself.”
Khamenei on Thursday slapped down an offer of direct negotiations with the United States, saying negotiations and pressure were incompatible. (Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati, Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Heavens)