Skip to main content

Khamenei: Something about Rouhani's U.S. trip 'wasn't proper'

By Ben Brumfield and Shirzad Bozorgmehr, CNN
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Sun October 6, 2013
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen during his visit to a military college in Tehran on Saturday, in this handout photo from his official website.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen during his visit to a military college in Tehran on Saturday, in this handout photo from his official website.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iran's supreme leader appears to have mixed feelings about president's diplomatic inroads
  • Rouhani's visit ended with a historic conversation with President Obama
  • It was the first time the supreme leader commented publicly on Rouhani's trip
  • Khamenei's comments follow a wave of new optimism about U.S.-Iranian relations

(CNN) -- Iran's supreme leader has expressed mixed feelings about his president's recent diplomatic inroads with the United States.

On Saturday, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised President Hassan Rouhani for diplomatic efforts he made during his trip over a week ago to the United Nations in New York.

"We support the government's diplomatic moves and consider them to be important. We also support what happened during the visit," Khamenei said according to the official Fars News Agency.

During his stay, Rouhani was well-received and struck up a markedly more conciliatory tone than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Rouhani's landmark week
Fareed's Take on Iran's Rouhani
Presidential historian on U.S.-Iran call
Netanyahu to Iran: Stop nuclear program

The visit ended with a historic, ice-breaking conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama, who phoned Rouhani. It was the first time presidents of the two countries had spoken since 1979, and the tone was agreeable.

But Khamenei felt uncomfortable with aspects of the trip, he said in a speech at a graduation ceremony for army officers in Tehran.

"Some of the things that took place during the trip to New York were not quite desirable," the official Fars News Agency quoted him. They were "inappropriate," Iran's English language broadcaster Press TV reported him saying.

Part of the trip "wasn't proper," Khamenei said in a post to his official English language Twitter account.

U.S. official: Obama, Rouhani discussed fate of 3 Americans

It was the first time the supreme leader, who is the ultimate holder of power in Iran, commented publicly on Rouhani's trip.

He had no harsh words for his president, but he did for the United States.

"We are optimistic about our dear government's diplomatic delegation, but we are pessimistic about the United States," Khamenei said according to Fars, before officers and soldiers who stood lined up at attention holding their weapons.

"The U.S. government is untrustworthy, egotistical and illogical and breaks its promises," he said. He accused Washington of kowtowing to Israel and bending to its wishes.

Curbing enthusiasm

The breakthrough phone call between Obama and Rouhani was met with enthusiasm in the United States and elsewhere in the West, but less so with Israel's leadership.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to the U.N. General Assembly podium on October 1 to attempt to curb it.

He accused the new Iranian president of being a "wolf in sheep's skin" who was still seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Kerry: U.S. is not being played by Iran

Western leaders have expressed optimism about Iran's more moderate tone under Rouhani, whose recent comments have raised hopes that a deal could be struck over the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear program.

But Netanyahu urged world leaders not to be duped by Rouhani, calling him a "loyal servant" to the Islamic regime, which he said "executes political dissidents by the hundreds" and jails them by the thousands.

Netanyahu says he would talk to Rouhani

"It's not hard to find evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program," Netanyahu said. "It's hard to find evidence that Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program."

Iran has long insisted that it is only interested in developing nuclear energy technology and has no intention of constructing nuclear weapons.

Nascent hope

Iranian President Rouhani on Twitter
Rouhani, Amanpour discuss U.S. detainees

Khamenei's comments Saturday follow a wave of new optimism in Iran about relations with the West.

News of the call between Obama and Rouhani has spawned hope of a diplomatic breakthrough, and it has lifted the mood of many Iranians.

U.S. holds out prospect of some sanctions relief

From bakery to barber shop, cafe to carpet store, Iranians stroll through Tehran with a renewed step, uplifted by how their newly elected president seeks something remarkable after decades of cold war-like relations between their country and the West.

"I just feel it. It's not like I've seen anything, but I feel it," said retiree Syed Ali Akbar. "It's the best thing to do. We've been hurting ourselves for years."

International economic sanctions against Iran have strained day-to-day living there, making essential goods such as medicine expensive and hard to come by. That punishment has taken a toll.

"The sanctions have hurt us. Prices have gone up. There are things you can't find," said Hossein Mohamadi at the Barbari Bread Shop.

To many Iranians, Rouhani has seemed to be really advancing the "hope and prudence" slogan he used during his campaign to become president in June, posturing as a centrist and reformer against hardline conservative thinking that characterized Ahmadinejad.

But Rouhani has also met with criticism at home for his diplomatic tone toward the West. Upon his arrival back in Tehran, a detractor threw a shoe in his direction. It is an extremely insulting gesture.

Opinion: Be cautious with new, smiley-faced Iran

CNN's Ben Brumfield wrote and reported from Atlanta; Shirzad Bozorgmehr reported from Tehran; CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali, Michael Martinez and Tom Watkins contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT