Ayatollah Khamenei sent Obama secret letter, report claims

Iran’s leader and US president in nuclear talks to cooperate in fighting Islamic State

Iran's leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has responded to overtures from US president Barack Obama by sending him a secret letter amid nuclear talks, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Citing an Iranian diplomat, the paper said the cleric had written to Mr Obama in recent weeks in response to a presidential letter sent in October.

Mr Obama's letter suggested the possibility of US-Iran cooperation in fighting Islamic State if a nuclear deal was secured, the paper said, quoting the diplomat.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s letter was said to be “respectful” but noncommittal.


Both the White House and the Iranian mission at the United Nations declined to comment on the report.

Ayatollah Khamenei said this week he could accept a compromise in the nuclear talks and gave his strongest defence yet of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s decision to negotiate with the West, a policy opposed by powerful hardliners at home.

The nuclear talks with the United States, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany are aimed at reaching an accord that would ease Western concerns that Tehran could pursue a covert nuclear weapons programme, in return for the lifting of sanctions that have ravaged the Iranian economy.

Negotiators have set a June 30th final deadline for an accord and Western officials have said they aim to agree on the substance of such a deal by March.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due to address the US Congress on Iran on March 3rd, has vowed "to foil this bad and dangerous agreement."