Iran declined an American offer for a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly currently underway in New York, American officials said Tuesday.
American officials said they had specifically offered “an encounter” between Obama and Rouhani, but “there will be no meeting,” a senior administration official 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,” the official said.
“The Iranians have an internal dynamic that they have to manage and the relationship with the United States is clearly quite different than the relationship that Iran has with other Western nations,” a senior administration official said of the Iranian refusal.
According to US officials, Secretary of State John Kerry, per Obama’s instructions, would be meeting with his Iranian counterpart Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the nuclear issue.
The Iranian delegation also skipped a lunch hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, avoiding the event that many suggested could see a handshake between the Iranian and American presidents.
Official Iranian news agencies suggested the Iranian delegation skipped the afternoon event because alcohol, proscribed by Muslim law, was being served.