‘Ar­ro­gance,’ a supreme leader cries

A provoca­tive post from afar as talks to reach Iran pact con­tinue

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY CAROL MORELLO carol.morello@wash­post.com

vi­enna — Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry pressed on with ef­forts to ne­go­ti­ate a nu­clear agree­ment with Ira­nian diplo­mats Satur­day as Iran’s supreme leader called the United States “the true em­bod­i­ment of global ar­ro­gance.”

In what could prove to be a decisive week­end in the ef­fort to curb Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram and lift sanc­tions against the coun­try, Kerry held back-to-back meet­ings with his coun­ter­parts from Ger­many, France, Bri­tain, the Euro­pean Union and Iran. At mid­day in Vi­enna, fol­low­ing a meet­ing with Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif, Kerry tweeted that the ne­go­tia­tors “still have dif­fi­cult is­sues to re­solve.”

The diplo­mats de­cided on Fri­day to ex­tend an in­terim agree­ment through Mon­day, in ef­fect push­ing back the dead­line for the third time in two weeks of high­level ne­go­ti­a­tions.

But even as they spoke, on the 15th con­sec­u­tive day of talks, Iran’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, gave a provoca­tive an­swer when a par­tic­i­pant at a meet­ing of stu­dents in Tehran asked what would hap­pen to the “fight against global ar­ro­gance” when the nu­clear talks end.

“Fight­ing global ar­ro­gance is the core of our revo­lu­tion, and we can­not put it on hold,” he said, ac­cord­ing to re­marks posted on his Web site. “Get ready to con­tinue your fight against global ar­ro­gance.” Then he added, “The U.S. is the true em­bod­i­ment of global ar­ro­gance.”

“Ar­ro­gance” is a com­mon la­bel in Iran for the United States and its al­lies in Europe and Is­rael. The same phrase was used by Ali Ja­fari, the com­man­der of Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps, in an in­ter­view pub­lished Satur­day by the state-run news agency, IRNA. Ja­fari sug­gested that Iran will con­tinue to sup­port proxy groups fight­ing else­where in the Mid­dle East.

“God will­ingly, we are help­ing all Mus­lim na­tions at­tain dig­nity and hu­man rights,” he said, adding that peo­ple in Iraq, Syria, Ye­men, Le­banon and the en­tity known in Iran as Palestine should be lib­er­ated from global ar­ro­gance.

De­spite the an­tag­o­nis­tic words from Tehran, ne­go­tia­tors in Vi­enna pro­ceeded with what looked like a push to fi­nal­ize an agree­ment af­ter a year and half of talks.

French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius and Bri­tish For­eign Min­is­ter Philip Ham­mond, who both left the talks on Fri­day, re­turned Satur­day to re­join the United States and Ger­many. The for­eign min­is­ters of Rus­sia and China have said they will come back when their pres­ence is needed.

CAR­LOS BAR­RIA/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry sits in the gar­den of the Coburg Palace ho­tel in Vi­enna, where the Iran nu­clear talks are un­der­way.

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