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Departing for UN General Assembly, Iran’s president says no plan to meet Biden

Ebrahim Raisi says appearance at annual gathering of world leaders is an opportunity to address ‘malice’ toward his country

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi waves to media and officials as he boards his plane while leaving Tehran's Mehrabad airport to New York to attend annual UN General Assembly meeting, September 19, 2022. (Vahid Salemi/AP)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi waves to media and officials as he boards his plane while leaving Tehran's Mehrabad airport to New York to attend annual UN General Assembly meeting, September 19, 2022. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Iran’s president headed on Monday to New York, where he will be speaking to the UN General Assembly later this week, saying that he has no plans to meet with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN event.

President Ebrahim Raisi spoke at the Tehran airport before his departure as talks to revive Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers remain stalled.

“There is no plan for a meeting or negotiations with US leaders,” Raisi said. “We have no plans whatsoever for meeting them.”

The Iranian president called his appearance at the United Nations an opportunity to explain to the world about alleged “malice” that unspecified nations and world powers have toward Iran. He did not elaborate.

Raisi, who is accompanied by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, is to address both the General Assembly and a UNESCO meeting on religions.

Talks between Iran and world powers over reviving a 2015 nuclear deal remained stalled, though Tehran and Washington have traded written responses in recent months on the finer points of the roadmap, which would see sanctions lifted against Iran in exchange for it restricting its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

Iran and the US have had no diplomatic relations since the 1979 US Embassy takeover by militant students in Tehran.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, reviews an honor guard during his official departure ceremony as he leaves Tehran’s Mehrabad airport to New York to attend annual UN General Assembly meeting, Sept. 19, 2022. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

On Sunday, CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired an interview with Raisi, who said the United States is not trustworthy and demanded guarantees that Washington would not withdraw again from a nuclear deal as president Donald Trump did in 2018.

Raisi also told CBS that Iran is willing to discuss prisoner exchanges with the US, defended his country’s anti-Israel stance and said Tehran was committed to pursuing “justice” for the killing of a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in a US airstrike in Baghdad in January 2020.

During the interview, Raisi also cast doubt on the Holocaust and called Israel a “false regime.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid is also scheduled to address the UN General Assembly.

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