White House: Obama Won't Meet Rouhani
The White House denied on Monday that President Barack Obama has any intention of meeting with Iran's new president in what would be the first such encounter since the 1979 Islamic revolution, The Hill reported.
Reports over the weekend said that such a meeting could happen on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is expected to address the world body on Sept. 24.
“There are currently no plans for the president and President Rouhani to meet at UNGA,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told The Hill in an email.
Sunday’s reports on a possible meeting came in the wake of comments made by Obama in an interview with ABC News. Obama confirmed in the interview that he had communicated with Iran’s new president by letter.
Rouhani, who was elected in June, has been described by the West as a moderate cleric.
In a message to the Iranian people after Rouhani's election, the Obama administration said it would be open to engaging “directly” on the issue of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. The two countries broke off diplomatic ties in 1980.
"As we have said, we hope that this new Iranian government will engage substantively in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program,” Meehan told The Hill.
“We remain ready to engage with the Rouhani government on the basis of mutual respect to achieve a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue," she added.
Israel has warned the world that Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would continue to develop Iran’s nuclear program.
The German weekly Der Spiegel reported on Monday that, in an attempt to convince the West to lift international sanctions on Iran, Rouhani is willing to dismantle the nuclear facility in Fordo, a site which is widely considered to pose a grave threat to Israel and the West.