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Twitter account associated with Iran's leader criticizes France

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei departs after casting his ballot in the parliamentary election in Tehran March 2, 2012. REUTERS
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei departs after casting his ballot in the parliamentary election in Tehran March 2, 2012. REUTERS

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

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, published a day after talks in Geneva ended without clinching a deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program, could not immediately be confirmed.

The comments appear to cite part of a speech Khamenei gave in March 2013 for Iranian new year, in which he said: "We have never had problems with France and the French government, neither in the past nor in the present era."

"However, since the time of (former President Nicolas) Sarkozy, the French government has adopted a policy of opposing the Iranian nation and unfortunately the current French government is pursuing the same policy. In our opinion, this is a wrong move. It is ill-advised and unwise."

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 U.S. and European allies on the final day of the Geneva talks as France hinted that the proposal under discussion did not sufficiently neutralize 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 Tehran 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 Tehran if it does not mothball its entire nuclear program.

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

(Reporting by Marcus George; Writing by William Maclean,; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Peter Graff)

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