MANAMA, BAHRAIN – Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Saturday that Iran hoped for “constructive talks” with world powers on Monday and Tuesday but left little doubt that the gaps between the two sides remain almost insurmountable.
Speaking to a security forum here one day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton assured the same gathering of a “good faith” effort in the negotiations, Mottaki was by turns caustic and defiant, both on stage and at a news conference. He insisted Iran had no interest in possessing a nuclear weapon, that sanctions had had “no impact” and that the real problem in the region was a “Zionist regime” that had “hundreds of nuclear warheads in occupied Palestine.”
Putting a uniquely Iranian spin on the U.S. midterm elections, Mottaki noted that President Obama had been elected on a motto of “change.” But vis-a-vis Iran and the Islamic world, he said, speaking through an interpreter, “we believe that the policies of President Obama are a continuation of President Bush’s policies – policies that Americans voted against. In the midterm elections, Americans also opposed those policies.”