The commander of Iran’s extra-territorial military Qods force, Qassem Soleimani told a gathering in Tehran on Monday that “people believe negotiations in the current conditions is pure surrender and we will not bow so low”.
The 62-year-old general also said that the way out of the current conditions is “resistance economy”, a term coined by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to show defiance in the face of international and U.S. sanctions.
Soleimani’s remarks come at a time when Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed willingness to negotiate over prisoners held by Iran and Iranians convicted of crimes in the United States and possibly in other Western countries.
The reference to “current conditions” most probably points to Iran’s near total economic isolation as a result of tough sanctions imposed by president Donald Trump’s administration, which have drastically reduced Iran’s oil exports, cutting off billions of dollars of badly needed revenues.
There have been no clear indications from Washington if the U.S. is willing to negotiate over prisoners. Officials have called on Iran to show “seriousness” by releasing people charged on vague and dubious grounds.
Soleimani who has led the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps’ Qods force for more than two decades, was speaking in an event, which brought together commanders and managers of Iran’s police forces.