Iran's supreme leader backs diplomacy over militarism
Tehran • Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tuesday that his country should embrace diplomacy over militarism, saying it was time for "heroic leniency" and signaled his embrace of international outreach efforts by new President Hassan Rouhani.
Although Khamenei said the Islamic republic must never abandon its revolutionary ideals and objectives, he said it was time to address Iran's diplomatic disputes with major world powers.
Earlier Tuesday, Iran's foreign ministry confirmed that Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama have exchanged letters in recent days.
"I agree with what I called 'heroic leniency' years ago because such an approach is very good and necessary in certain situations as long as we stick to our main principles," Khamenei said.
Khamenei's words were the clearest indication to date that Rouhani's government has his support.
In his speech, Khamenei also rejected the claim made by some world powers that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons and accused such countries of a three-pronged policy of "making wars, poverty and corruption."
"We do not believe in nuclear weapons because of our beliefs, not for the sake of the U.S. or other countries, and when we say that no country should possess nuclear weapons, we ourselves are definitely not trying to possess them," Khamenei said.
Khamenei made the speech at a meeting of members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a day after Rouhani addressed the same group. Khamenei told the military commanders that "it is not necessary for the IRGC to be active in the political field, but defending the revolution requires that they understand political realities."
The remarks come just ahead of Rouhani and his foreign policy team's trip to New York to attend the annual U.N. General Assembly. Rouhani and Obama will address the gathering Sept. 24.
Facebook and Twitter blocked again in Iran
Tehran • Internet users in Iran lost access Tuesday to Facebook and Twitter, a day after they were surprised to find that they could get on the sites without having to evade a government's firewall that had blocked direct access to the websites for years. Iranian officials dismissed the episode as a technical glitch, but many Iranians were skeptical. The country's new president, Hasan Rouhani, has promised several times to reduce Internet censorship. The government walled off Facebook and Twitter during the chaos after disputed presidential elections in 2009, saying they were being used by anti-government protesters to organize demonstrations.
The New York Times