TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has dismissed the news reports claiming that Iran has agreed to hold direct negotiations with the United States.
Salehi made the remarks in Tehran on Sunday during a joint press conference with Central African Republic Foreign Minister Antoine Gambi, in reply to a question about the fact that the New York Times, quoting unidentified U.S. administration officials, reported on Saturday that Iran and the U.S. had agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program after the U.S. presidential election, which is scheduled to be held on November 6.
The Iranian foreign minister said, “We are not responsible for responding to the news they publish, but there is no talk of negotiations with the United States.”
“We hold negotiations within the framework of the 5+1 group (talks),” he stated, referring to the negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) over the country’s nuclear program.
Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, also dismissed the New York Times report on Saturday, saying, “It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections.”
However, the U.S. administration is open to such talks and has “said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally,” Vietor added.
Iran-5+1 talks may be held in November
During the press conference, Salehi was asked if a date has been set for a new round of talks between Tehran and the 5+1 group, and he replied, “According to the latest talks, it has been agreed that negotiations will be held between the two sides in November, probably late in November. However, the date and venue have not been fixed yet.”
Israel carried out Beirut attack as a diversionary move
Salehi also commented on the car bombing that was carried out in Beirut on October 19, in which eight people, including a senior Lebanese intelligence official, Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, were killed and over 100 others were injured.
He said, “The Zionist regime is the greatest enemy of the region and regional countries. The UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that recently was able to penetrate into the occupying regime frightened this regime, and the Zionist regime had put itself in such a situation (in relation to) its people that its weakness and desperateness were quite evident.”
Salehi was referring to the fact that Israel shot down an Iranian-made Hezbollah drone on October 6 that had penetrated hundreds of kilometers into Israeli airspace and gotten very close to the Dimona nuclear plant without being detected by advanced Israeli and U.S. radar systems.
The Iranian foreign minister added, “They (the Zionists) committed a great crime and martyred and wounded a large number of Lebanese citizens with the aim of diverting people’s attention.”
Commenting on relations between Iran and the Central African Republic, he said that it has been agreed that the two countries will hold more consultations and will enhance their cooperation.
Salehi also stated that Iran will make every effort to help develop the infrastructure of the African country.
And the foreign minister of the Central African Republic expressed hope that relations between the two countries would be expanded in various areas.
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