White House Denies agreement on US/Iran Nuclear Talks [View all]
By JENNIFER EPSTEIN | 10/20/12 7:15 PM EDT Politico
The Obama administration is denying a report that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks that could be a last-chance opportunity to avoid war over Iran's nuclear program.
Citing senior administration officials, The New York Times reported Sunday that Iranian officials have agreed to negotiations, but not until after the presidential election, so that they know whether they're negotiating with President Obama or Mitt Romney.
But National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor offered a denial.
"Itís not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections," he said in a statement.
"We continue to work with the P-5 on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally. The president has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and we will do what we must to achieve that. It has always been our goal for sanctions to pressure Iran to come in line with its obligations. The onus is on the Iranians to do so, otherwise they will continue to face crippling sanctions and increased pressure."
The Times report came barely more than 48 hours before the presidential candidates prepare to take the stage for their third and final debate, which will focus on foreign policy. Signs that Iran is willing to negotiate on its nuclear program could be helpful to Obama, who has long favored a diplomatic resolution to tensions with Iran and has implemented new sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran into negotiations.