U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would not meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as world leaders gathered in New York but signalled he was open to a future meeting.
Trump made the statement in spite of simmering tensions over Tehran’s nuclear deal.
Both countries’ presidents were due to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York. Trump is scheduled to address the gathering later.
Foes for decades, Washington and Tehran have been increasingly at odds since May, when the Republican U.S. president pulled out of the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and announced sanctions against the OPEC member.
The accord, negotiated under Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama, lifted most international sanctions against Tehran in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear programme.
Over the summer, Trump had said he would meet with Rouhani without preconditions to negotiate a new deal, an offer reiterated on Sunday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and extended to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
Rouhani said on Monday Tehran would not talk to Trump until the U.S. returned to the 2015 deal.
The top adviser to Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, rejected the U.S. offer, saying Trump’s and Pompeo’s dream would never come to reality.
“Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Alireza Miryousefi, Spokesman for Iran’s UN mission, told newsmen that Iran has not requested a meeting with Trump.
Some Iranian insiders have said any talk between Rouhani and Trump would effectively kill the existing nuclear accord.
Tensions have been rising after a deadly attack on a military parade in southwestern Iran in which 25 people were killed.
Khamenei said on Monday the attackers had been paid by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and that Iran would “severely punish” those behind the bloodshed.