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Khamenei says Iran’s policy toward US will not be affected by election result

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Meng Tao/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says the outcome of the presidential election in the United States won’t change Tehran’s stance toward Washington.

Speaking the day before the anniversary of the November 4, 1979, seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the taking of American diplomats hostage, as well as the day of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Khamenei reiterated Iran’s long-standing policy that it didn’t matter whether U.S. President Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins the vote.

Washington cut its diplomatic ties with Tehran over the embassy takeover and American diplomats being held hostage for 444 days.

“Our policy toward the United States is clearly set and does not change with the movement of individuals. It does not matter to us who comes and goes,” Khamenei said in a speech carried live on state-controlled TV.

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Authorities this year canceled state-organized rallies marking the U.S. Embassy takeover due to concerns over the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 36,000 people in Iran, according to official figures. In recent weeks, the country has faced a surge in the number of infections and fatalities.

Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal signed with Iran and several global powers and reimposed tough economic sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy and resulted in the crash of the national currency.

Tehran has responded by gradually rolling back its commitment under the accord.

Biden has pledged to rejoin the 2015 agreement if Tehran returns to full compliance with it.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the U.S. television network CBS on November 2 that he wants the United States to rejoin the accord, but that “reengagement does not mean renegotiation” because “if we wanted to do that, we would have done it with President Trump four years ago.”

Zarif told CBS that “the statements by the Biden camp have been more promising, but we will have to wait and see.”

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Speaking on November 3, Khamenei also called for an end to the conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which he called a “bitter incident” that threatens the region’s security.

“The lands that were occupied by Armenia should be returned to Azerbaijan and the safety of all Armenians living in those lands should be ensured,” the Iranian leader said.

“There should be no violation of international borders and terrorists should not come close to our borders,” he added.

Tehran has in recent weeks issued warnings to Armenia and Azerbaijan over rockets and mortar rounds from the fighting that have strayed across the border and caused damage on Iranian territory.

Last month, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that his country would not tolerate the presence of foreign fighters near its borders.