Middle East

Clinton: US confused by 'power struggle' in Iran

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Media captionHillary Clinton said there was a pattern of wreckless behaviour coming from part of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards

US efforts to reach out to Iran have been hurt by confusion over who is running the country, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told BBC Persian.

"We're not quite sure who makes decisions anymore inside of Iran," she said.

Mrs Clinton said that she believes the country is morphing into a military dictatorship.

The door remains open, however, for talks with Tehran on its nuclear program.

She said the State Department was planning to open a "virtual embassy" by the end of 2011, to give Iranians online information about visas and student exchange programs.

The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Iran, broke formal ties with the country in 1980.

'A very strong case'

Mrs Clinton said that a power struggle within the Iranian government could potentially be a positive opportunity for Iranians.

"I think there is an opportunity for people within the country to try to influence how that debate turns out," she said.

American's top diplomat said she was aware of the scepticism around the US's charges that Iran was tied to a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US in Washington DC.

Mrs Clinton said the US had a "very strong case" and that the plot was representative of organisations like the Quds force becoming "more reckless".

She also accused Iran of showing "aggressive behaviour" towards its neighbours and of trying to "hijack and undermine the so-called Arab Spring awakening".

"We do not want a conflict with Iran but we do want to see the rulers of Iran change their outlook and their behaviour," she said.

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