After much speculation about whether President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would meet, perhaps photographed shaking hands together, the Islamic Republic was the one that turned down the U.S. president.
Senior administration officials told the White House pool about half an hour ago that the White House had offered to have “an encounter” on the sidelines of UN General Assembly with Obama and Rouhani, but the Iranians informed the U.S. today that it is “too complicated for Iranians to do at this point.”
“There will be no meeting,” one official said, according to the White House pool report. “It was clear that it was too complicated for them.”
They stressed that Secretary of State John Kerry would press relations with his Iranian counterpart.
Still, officials tried to downplay the snub, saying that they were publicly and privately “open to having discussions on the margins of UNGA.”
“The Iranians have an internal dynamic that they have to manage and the relationship with the United States is clearly quite different than the relationship that Iran has with other Western nations,” a senior administration official said.
Rouhani, who speaks at the UN this afternoon, engaged in other sidelines meetings with IMF chief Christine Lagarde and French President Francois Hollande.
Rouhani skipped the UN leaders’ lunch for a reason that one of his official news organs, Iran’s Press TV, got high and mighty about: