While both leaders are in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told CBS that conditions aren’t right for a meeting with President Obama.
Obama made a historic call to Rouhani last year during the annual meeting of world leaders, but the two did not meet in person.
“Between two nations whom have suffered many problems between one another and to have had great difficulties towards one another, if one day the appropriate foundation hasn’t been laid for such a meeting, if the appropriate aim has not been calculated, then it will not be fruitful,” Rouhani said.
“So today, the conditions do not dictate such a meeting. We do not want to put on a show. Our people do not enjoy a show or theater, and certainly that is also something that the people of the United States do not wish for,” he continued. “Therefore, let’s let the time mature, upon during which such talk and such meeting can be fruitful towards resolving problems and issues.”
Rouhani is planning to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The P5+1 nuclear negotiations are continuing this week.
“There’s nothing like that on the schedule right now,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday when asked whether the president would seek a meeting with Rouhani. “At this point, I don’t anticipate something like that being added, but we’ll see.”
Rouhani also told CBS that Obama’s Syria strategy just seeks to “put more fuel on the existing fire.”
“It is not clear for us what they’re seeking, a theater for public consumption, or they’re after a tangible, a real objective in the region. It is not real crystal clear for us, but what I can tell you unequivocally, no terrorist group can be eradicated and destroyed through aerial bombardments,” the Iranian leader said.
“The way to combat terrorism, sir, is not for us to give birth to another terrorist group in order to stand up against an existing terrorist group. These are the series of mistakes that have composed the rings of the chain that have taken us from where we were to where we are today. We must accept the reality. We cannot organize armed groups of fighters in order to reach our objectives.”
Iran had been sheltering 33-year-old Kuwaiti citizen Muhsin al-Fadhli, the leader of Khorasan. They claimed the Zawahiri deputy was under house arrest while he ran al-Qaeda in Iran. He reportedly moved to northern Syria to set up shop about a year ago.