Iranians Rebuff U.S. Offer to Meet at U.N.

9/24/13
 
   < < Go Back
 
from The Wall Street Journal,
9/24/13:

Tehran Decides Against Meeting of President at U.N.

President Barack Obama told world leaders that an agreement with Iran to contain its nuclear program should be achievable, but Iran decided against an anticipated meeting of the U.S. and Iranian presidents at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

The Iranian decision stalled what had been building as a potential diplomatic advance between Washington and Tehran after more than 30 years of conflict.

A step forward is planned for Thursday, when Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as part of a larger meeting between Tehran and global powers during the annual U.N. meeting.

But Iran didn’t accept the U.S. offer for an encounter between presidents, senior Obama administration officials said.

“We have said publicly and we also said privately to the Iranians, that we’re open to having discussions on the margins of UNGA—informal discussions not a bilateral meeting. That proved to be too complicated for the Iranians to do at this point,” a senior administration official said.

Iranian officials throughout Tuesday sought to play down the prospects of a meeting, saying that nothing had been formally announced.

They stressed, though, that the Iranian leader was holding one-on-one talks with Western leaders such as French President François Hollande and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine LeGarde.

This marked a break from Mr. Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who largely shunned meetings with European officials.

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):