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Iran Exclusive: Did Supreme Leader's Top Advisor Meet US Officials in Qatar? br>
The Latest from Iran (29 October): We Will Defeat the Sanctions, The Sanctions Are Killing Us
EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, says she has plans to meet with Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili, hoping new talks between Iran and the group of six major world powers could lead to a diplomatic solution.
Ashton said on Tuesday that European officials met last weekend with aides to the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili, adding that she plans to meet directly with him [Jalili] soon, Associated Press reported.
The announcement is seen as a key step in the resumption of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group --- which consists of Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US plus Germany -- over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
Ashton, appearing at a news conference in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said, "We continue to try and find ways to move forward on our negotiations," adding that her top aide had been in contact over the weekend with Jalili's deputy and that she would be reaching out to Jalili "in the near future".
Significantly, Press TV did not report Clinton's sterner message, "The window remains open to resolve the international community's concerns about your nuclear program diplomatically and to relieve your isolation, but that window cannot remain open indefinitely. Therefore, we hope that there can be serious good-faith negotiations commenced soon."
1430 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi has declared, "The Zionist Regime has witnessed the Islamic Republic’s power in its different aspects and is aware of it. Therefore, it does not consider itself capable of taking any silly measure against our country."
Vahidi added that Iran is ready to counter any threats and will give a crushing response to any aggression.
The Treasury has faced a delicate balancing act over the health-care sanctions. On the one hand, any easing of the restrictions risked criticism in the US of a relaxation of pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme. On the other, Washington has faced a rising tide of bad publicity over the impact of the sanctions on the Iranian people, for example, over treatment of cancer, hemophilia, and other blood diseases.
So the Office of Foreign Assets Control made the change on 22 October, but did so without publicity.
Deputy Minister of Industry Seyyed Javad Taghavi, in a letter published in Iranian media, declared that traders will no longer be able to export commodities such as wheat, flour, sugar, and red meat, as well as aluminium and steel ingots.
Taghavi said a further list of banned goods would be announced later.
0717 GMT: Nuclear Watch. We are also looking at mixed messages on another front this morning, with an anlaysis "The Regime Tells the US, 'You Are Plotting Against Us --- Let's Talk'".
An EA correspondent offers an explanation for the argument within the regime leading to the different signals:
One faction, including the head of police Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam and the head of the Revolutionary Guards Mohammad Ali Jafari, want to emphasise the possibility of war with the US and Israel.
However, the Larijanis --- including Speaker of Parliament Ali and head of judiciary Sadegh --- and advisors like Morteza Nabavi --- are pressing for negotiations.
0710 GMT: Joanna Paraszchuk, writing for The Jerusalem Post, follows up our Monday theme about the regime's public message --- "We Will Defeat the Sanctions, The Sanctions Are Killing Us" --- with an article, "Iran Sends Mixed Messages on Effect of Sanctions":
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and military leaders have not digressed from the message that Iran can overcome sanctions.
However, Iran’s state press, particularly its English-language channels whose messages are aimed at a Western audience, has started to report that the embargoes are causing severe humanitarian issues.
Paraszchuk concludes with EA's analysis:
While the overall line – set by the supreme leader – is supposed to be the triumph of the "resistance economy", there has been increasing concern as economic problems have escalated and this has fueled political tensions.
So whereas [President] Ahmadinejad was saying earlier this year that sanctions were no more than a scrap of paper and others...had been saying that the West and Europe would suffer most, there is now an acknowledgement that the "economic war" is taking a toll.