Amid hopes of easing US sanctions, Iran’s Khamenei warns against ‘opening’ with West

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Iran's supreme leader cautioned Tuesday against hopes of an "opening" with the West, after President Hassan Rouhani's government signalled a readiness to engage with US President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden, who defeated Donald Trump at the ballot box on November 3, has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four tense years under the hawkish outgoing US president.

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"We can't trust foreigners and hope for an opening on their part," Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said at a meeting with Rouhani, parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and judicial chief Ebrahim Raisi, according to Khamenei's office.

"We tried to lift sanctions once and negotiated for several years, but to no avail," he said in remarks aired on state television, referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The agreement that gave Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program has been hanging by a thread since 2018, when Trump unilaterally withdrew and reimposed punitive measures.

In response, the Islamic republic has gradually reduced its commitments to the deal.

Since Biden's election victory, the Rouhani government has sent out signals on multiple occasions, indicating it is ready to open up with the incoming US administration.

But Khamenei warned in his televised remarks that "the situation in the United States is not clear".

"These are difficult times for everyone. Their difficulties do not really allow them to express themselves on international issues, to give an opinion that can be counted on for the future," he said.

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