Iran's supreme leader dismisses direct US talks, but says nuclear negotiations will go on

Iran's supreme leader is dismissing the value of direct talks with the U.S., his first comments touching on meetings that officials from the Islamic Republic had with Americans dating back to secret talks that began in 2012.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has final say over all state matters in Iran. He has backed negotiators and President Hassan Rouhani during talks with world powers about its contested nuclear program.

But while addressing Iran's Foreign Ministry officials Wednesday, Khamenei criticized the U.S., saying direct talks with its diplomats didn't help reduce sanctions or decrease its animosity toward Tehran. Hard-liners in Iran are increasingly criticizing Rouhani and the negotiators.

A recent interim nuclear deal grew out of secret meetings between U.S. and Iranian officials in Oman and elsewhere going back to 2012.