Iranian Ayatollah: We Can Negotiate Openly, and Maintain Relations, With America
In an interview for the reformist Iranian online daily Rooz (www.roozonline.com ), Hossein Mousavi-Tabrizi, secretary of the Qom Seminaries Association of Researchers and Instructors, criticized the nuclear and economic policies of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ayatollah Mousavi-Tabrizi called for Iran to talk, conduct open negotiations, and renew relations with the U.S. READ MORE
The following are the highlights of his statements. 
"The Way We're Going, We're Causing a World Consensus Against Us"
Rooz: "What do you think will be Iran's most important problems in the new year?" 
Ayatollah Tabrizi: "The most important problem will be the nuclear energy issue. We ask God for our senior officials to act so that this problem will be solved at the lowest possible cost, and so that there will be no additional problems for the people...
"The second problem that seems very important is Iran's economic problems. In my opinion, planning must be such that no inflation or economic stagnation problem is created in the country..."
Rooz: "Does the political problem, which is the nuclear energy [issue], affect the economic problem?"
Ayatollah Tabrizi: "Certainly, the influence is great. But in light of the planning that was done, I feel that the budget was prepared in such a way that it will cause inflation and a rise in prices."
Rooz: "Is there a way to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully?"
Ayatollah Tabrizi: "In my opinion, there was and is a solution. But right now the situation is more difficult. These problems could have been solved in a better way. One of the best ways is for us to reduce the political tension in the world. We cannot solve our problem by creating additional tension; the way we're going, we are causing the creation of a world consensus against us.
"The most important task of the previous government [and the] previous Supreme National Security Council [as headed by Hassan Rohani] was to prevent the creation of a consensus against us, and they succeeded at this. But, most unfortunately, today America is advancing in the direction of creating a consensus against us..."
"The [Iranian] People Have Not Sworn to Cooperate [With the Regime] Forever"
Rooz: "Is it appropriate for us to talk with America too, under the present conditions?"
Ayatollah Tabrizi: "Yes, indeed. What is the problem? Negotiations do not mean dependence. Are the other countries that are negotiating with America dependent upon it? First, negotiations do not mean relations. Second, relations do not mean dependence. Right now, we maintain that Syria is not dependent upon America, but at the same time, the two countries are conducting negotiations and contacts, and maintaining ambassadors and embassies. We too can conduct negotiations, even open [negotiations], and also have contacts [with the U.S.] - as happened many times [between the U.S. and Iran] in the matter of Afghanistan and Iraq. There was a need for them to sit and talk because there were issues that required discussion. [The countries] can talk now, too."
Rooz: "What does Iran stand to gain in conducting negotiations with America under the present conditions?"
Ayatollah Tabrizi: "I don't know what the gain is, but I know that wherever they would have an effect, negotiations must be conducted with all the countries."
Rooz: "What do you think will be the reaction of the [Iranian] people, in light of the problems that they face, primarily in the economic sphere?"
Ayatollah Tabrizi: "If the people see honesty and integrity on the part of those in charge [of the regime], and know that they are interested in their welfare, and that the enemy is the one who is creating the problems, they will bear the burden. But if, heaven forbid, the people feel that the senior officials are not honest and have no integrity, lied to them, or did not show a serious effort to solve the problems, of course problems will then be created. After all, the people have not sworn an oath to cooperate forever."
 The Persian New Year begins March 21.