TEHRAN (FNA)- The leader of a terrorist group responsible for a string of attacks in southeastern Iran said in an interview broadcast on Thursday that he was ready to enter talks with the Tehran government.
“We are ready from this moment to start a dialogue with the Iranian government … in the presence of an international party,” Jundallah (Soldiers of God) leader Abdolmalek Rigi told the Al-Arabiya news channel.
“If the Iranian government allows us to enjoy all our political rights, we will be ready to abandon arms and enter the political arena,” Rigi added.
But he warned that the group would continue its struggle against Tehran until it secured “all the rights entitled to our people.”
The Jundallah group has been blamed for a string of attacks and kidnappings in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province, a region near the border with Pakistan.
The Dubai-based television said the interview was conducted in Pakistani Baluchistan close to the Iranian border.
A bearded Rigi was shown sitting against a mountainous backdrop surrounded by masked and armed militants. A young boy appeared next to him for part of the interview.
On June 12, the group captured 16 Iranian border guards at a checkpoint in the town of Saravan before taking them across the border into Pakistan. The group has since announced executing four of them.
The group has threatened to execute the remaining guards unless Iran heeds its demands for the release of 200 of its fighters.
In February last year the group claimed a car bombing in the Sistan-Baluchestan provincial capital of Zahedan in which 11 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) were killed and 31 wounded.
Officials earlier said that Rigi is a leader of the al-Qaeda network in Iran.