Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi has rejected reports that Iran has sent a message to the US expressing its interest in engaging directly with Washington over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has not requested direct talks with the US,” Araqchi said on Saturday.
The New York Times
reported on July 26 that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had told US President Barack Obama's administration officials this month that Iran favored direct talks with the United States on its nuclear energy program.
The US daily's report claimed that al-Maliki had told the US ambassador in Baghdad in an early July meeting that he was relaying a message from Iranian officials and that Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rohani would be serious about any discussions with the United States.
The US, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly charged that Iran may intend to acquire nuclear-weapons capability in the future.
Tehran has categorically rejected the accusation, arguing that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Araqchi advised the US media to avoid creating tensions and media hype by publishing false reports ahead of the inauguration of Rohani.
Rohani’s swearing-in is scheduled to be held on August 4, one day after his endorsement by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Rohani, who won 50.7 percent of the June 14 presidential election in Iran to secure an outright victory, served as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator from October 2003 to August 2005.