Iran leaders to blame for currency crisis: Clinton
The Iranian government is to blame for a currency crisis that has seen the value of the nation's money plunge in recent days, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.
"I think the Iranian government deserves responsibility for what is going on inside Iran, and that is who should be held accountable," Clinton told reporters after talks with Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov.
A protest and scuffles with police broke out in central Tehran on Wednesday in the first sign of public unrest over Iran's plunging currency, which has lost more than half of its value since last week.
Hundreds of police in anti-riot gear stormed the capital's currency exchange district of Ferdowsi, arresting illegal money changers and ordering licensed exchange bureaux and other shops closed, witnesses told AFP.
Several arrests were seen, carried out by uniformed police or plain-clothes security officers.
Clinton said: "Our goal has been and remains to persuade the Iranian regime to negotiate seriously and in good faith with the international community over its nuclear program."
The Islamic regime should "do so expeditiously," she stressed, adding that under the international community's "dual track approach" they had deliberately put "pressure on the Iranian government to come to the negotiating table."
"They have made their own government decisions having nothing to do with the sanctions that have had an impact on the economic conditions inside the country," she said.
"Of course the sanctions have had an impact as well but those could be remedied in short order if the Iranian government were willing to work with the P5+1 and the rest of the international community in a sincere manner."
The West - and the six powers leading the negotiations with Iran, known as the P5+1 - allege that Iran is seeking to build an atomic weapon. Tehran denies the charge and says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.