Iran, like U.S., denies plan for one-on-one nuclear talks

Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:35pm GMT

By Yeganeh Torbati

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran followed the United States on Sunday in denying that the two countries had scheduled direct bilateral negotiations on Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

The New York Times, quoting unnamed U.S. administration officials, had said on Saturday that secret exchanges between U.S. and Iranian officials had yielded agreement "in principle" to hold one-on-one talks.

"We don't have any discussions or negotiations with America," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a news conference. "The (nuclear) talks are ongoing with the P5+1 group of nations. Other than that, we have no discussions with the United States."

The P5+1 group comprises the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia - plus Germany.

The United States has been working with the P5+1 to pressure Iran on its nuclear programme, but with few results. The United States and other Western powers allege that the programme is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, but Tehran says it is purely peaceful.

The White House also denied the newspaper report, which came two days before President Barack Obama faces Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a televised foreign policy debate.

"It's not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

"We continue to work with the P5+1 on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally."   Continued...

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Abu Dhabi July 9, 2012. REUTERS/Ben Job
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