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Iran's Khamenei says won't negotiate with West over regional presence

Iran's Khamenei says won't negotiate with West over regional presence


REUTERS
LONDON
Iran will not negotiate with the West over its presence in the Middle East, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday, a few days after France's visiting foreign minister sought to raise Tehran's role in regional conflicts.
Jean-Yves Le Drian flew to Tehran on Monday with a brief to reaffirm European support for a 2015 nuclear deal that opened up Iran's economy while echoing US concern about Tehran's missile programme and its influence in the region.
"European countries come (to Tehran) and say we want to negotiate with Iran over its presence in the region. It is none of your business. It is our region. Why are you here?" Khamenei was quoted as saying by his official website.
Khamenei, a Shi'ite cleric who is Iran's ultimate authority on all major matters of state, said the Islamic Republic would only negotiate on that issue with other states in the region.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards have sent weapons and thousands of soldiers to Syria to prop up President Bashar al-Assad in the country's seven-year-long civil war. Israel has accused Tehran of seeking a permanent military presence in Syria.
Khamenei described the presence of US military forces in various regions of the world as"malicious and seditious" and said Iran would not ask for permission from Washington to be active in the Middle East.
"We will negotiate with America when we want to be present in America," he said.

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