Twitter account associated with Iran's Ayatollah criticises France

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Twitter account Iran experts believe is run by the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticised France on Sunday after Paris expressed reservations about a proposed deal to end a decade-old dispute over Teheran's nuclear programme.

A message posted in English on the account @khamenei-ir said: "French officials have been openly hostile towards the Iranian nation over the past few years; this is an imprudent and inept move."

A second tweet said: "A wise man, particularly a wise politician, should never have the motivation to turn a neutral entity into an enemy."

The authenticity of the messages, which appeared to refer to talks in Geneva that ended on Saturday night without clinching a deal to curb Teheran's nuclear programme, could not immediately be confirmed.

But France has traditionally taken a tougher line on Iran than most other world powers and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused it of being more intransigent in talks than the United States.

Clear divisions emerged among the US and European allies on the final day of the Geneva talks as France hinted that the proposal under discussion did not sufficiently neutralise the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Despite the failure of the discussions, Iran and six world powers said differences had narrowed - a softening that may worry Iranian hardliners - and they would resume negotiations in 10 days to try to end the decade-old standoff.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday denounced the outline of an accord leaked to the media, saying Teheran would be getting "the deal of the century" if world powers carried out proposals to grant Iran temporary respite from sanctions.

Israel, which is believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal and regards Iran as a mortal threat, has repeatedly suggested it may take military action against Teheran if it does not mothball its entire nuclear programme.

Iran dismisses such demands, saying it has a sovereign right to a nuclear energy industry. Most diplomats concede that, as Teheran has expanded its nuclear capacity exponentially since 2006, the time for demanding a total shutdown has passed.

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