Iran's Khamenei rejects talks with U.S. over missile, nuclear programmes

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wears a protective face mask, during a virtual meeting with lawmakers in Tehran, Iran July 12, 2020. Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ruled out negotiations with the United States over Tehran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes on Friday and urged Iranians to resist U.S. pressure.

“America’s brutal sanctions on Iran are aimed at collapsing our economy ... Their aim is to limit our influence in the region and to halt our missile and nuclear capabilities,” Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on television.

“Relying on national capabilities and cutting our dependence on oil exports will help us to resist America’s pressure.”

Relations between Tehran and Washington have deteriorated since U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 abandoned a pact between Iran and six world powers under which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions.

The United States has reimposed sanctions that have sharply lowered Tehran’s oil exports. Washington says it wants Tehran to negotiate a wider deal to further curb Iran’s nuclear work, halt its missile programme and limit the Islamic Republic’s regional influence.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Alison Williams and Timothy Heritage