Khamenei: Regional instability caused by US support for Israel, terror groups
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Khamenei: Regional instability caused by US support for Israel, terror groups

Iranian supreme leader says US is main part of Middle East problem, not solution; proposed cooperation on Syria ‘meaningless’

In this picture released by official website of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's office on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, he is seen speaking in a meeting with members of Iran's Experts Assembly in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
In this picture released by official website of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's office on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, he is seen speaking in a meeting with members of Iran's Experts Assembly in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran’s supreme leader dismissed Sunday the prospect of cooperation with the US on regional issues, saying the latter’s support for Israel highlighted the incompatible policies of the two countries.

“The main factor of insecurity in the region is US support for the Zionist regime and terrorist groups,” Khamenei said.

In a wide-ranging speech on foreign policy, which was also shared on an official government Twitter account, the ayatollah cited US opposition to an Iranian proposal for Palestinian elections to “decide the fate of the Zionists and the settlers.”

“We have proposed an election with all Palestinians participating in it, which is in full compliance with all common principles of the world,” he said, slamming the US for “opposing our logical proposal.”

Khamenei also took aim at wider US policy in the Middle East. “Contrary to some people’s views, America is the main part of the problem in the region, not part of the solution.”

The comments, delivered to Iran’s ambassadors and other top diplomats, were Khamenei’s first since his country joined on Friday international talks in Vienna on the four-year conflict wracking Tehran’s ally Syria.

Khamenei said Syria’s people must choose for themselves who their leader would be, rather than US and other foreign powers deciding for them.

“The Americans seek to impose their own interests, not solve problems. They want to impose 60, 70 percent of their will in negotiations. So what’s the point of negotiations?” he said, appearing to discount the value of the Vienna talks.

Khamenei said the military and financial support given to rebels fighting Assad, principally from Gulf states and the US, must be stopped.

This would allow an end to the war and ensure “Syrian people elect whomever they want in a safe and peaceful environment,” he added, without mentioning Iran’s support for Assad.

Iran denies fighting alongside Syrian troops and militias, but in recent weeks stepped up its deployment of military advisers. More than a dozen have been killed in the past fortnight.

Top diplomats from 17 countries, as well as the United Nations and the European Union, had gathered in Austria to narrow their divisions over Syria’s war, which has killed more than 250,000 people.

For the first time, the meeting brought together all the main outside players in the crisis, including Russia and Iran, key allies of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Syrian regime and the opposition were not represented.

Iran and the US held direct talks in the past two years leading to a deal on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program but after the July 14 agreement Khamenei banned direct talks on regional issues.

“There’s no point in other countries getting together and deciding about a system of government and the head of that state,” he said Sunday.

“This is a dangerous innovation which no government in the world would accept being imposed on itself. The solution to Syria’s problem is elections.”

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