Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday again ruled out holding any bilateral talks with the United States, saying the Islamic republic is opposed to such negotiations in principle.
In an address to parliament, Rouhani also said Iran was ready to further reduce its commitments to a landmark 2015 nuclear deal “in the coming days” if negotiations with other world powers yield no results by Thursday.
Rouhani’s remarks came as France has said its diplomatic efforts were bridging the gap between the US and Iran, leading to US President Donald Trump to say he would be willing to meet with Rouhani for direct talks.
“We’ve said it before time and again, and we say it again: We have no intention to hold bilateral talks with the United States,” Rouhani said, according to a report from Iran’s Mehr news agency. “We never did and never will. It has been the case in the past year and a half, and even in previous years.”
“There have been calls for talks, but we never responded to them,” Rouhani added in comments broadcast live.
The Iranian president reiterated that Iran will not enter talks with the United States unless Washington lifts its sanctions against Tehran first.
Rouhani also said European nations are failing to implement their commitments following the US pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iranian state TV quoted Rouhani as saying that the Europeans “did not carry out their task.”
The comments come as Iranian diplomats are in France for last-minute talks.
Iran on Monday threatened to “take a strong step” away from the deal if Europe cannot offer new terms by a deadline at the end of this week.
Iran’s oil exports have been curbed and its economy has faced freefall following crushing US sanctions imposed after Trump withdrew the US from the deal.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has been one of the leading voices in the European Union for dialogue with the Islamic Republic. Last week he arranged the surprise arrival of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, and proposed a summit between Trump and Rouhani.
Trump showed openness to the notion, a fact that reportedly caused intense concern in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Friday with Macron, urging him not to negotiate with Iran at the present time.
According to a readout from his office, the premier said that, with Tehran increasing its regional aggression and threatening Israel and others, “now is “precisely not the time” to hold conciliatory talks with the regime.