TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama was made at the request of the White House, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and added that an anticipated direct meeting with Obama was cancelled due to the lack of time.
Speaking to reporters at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport on Saturday upon returning from New York, President Rouhani explained why a much anticipated direct meeting with Barack Obama did not occur on the sidelines of the 68th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“There was not enough time for such a meeting,” Rouhani said.
The Iranian chief executive arrived in Tehran on Saturday after a five-day visit to New York City to attend the UN annual gathering.
Asked about American officials’ proposal to hold a direct meeting between him and Obama, Rouhani said, “Such a meeting at presidential level, which has not materialized for 35 years, required preparations, and this issue was indeed premature, and we also announced that such a meeting needed its own preparations.”
He also touched on his telephone conversation with the US president on last day of his five-day trip to the UN headquarters.
According to President Rouhani, Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations got a telephone call from the White House on Friday and was told that US President Barack Obama “wanted to talk to me on the phone for a few minutes.”
“They called our representative on his cell phone and we had the conversation,” Rouhani explained, and added that the main issue in this conversation was the nuclear issue.
“We declared that Iran’s nuclear issue is not only the right of the nation, but also an issue of national pride.”
In separate comments on Friday, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice had told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that the Iranian delegation approached the Obama administration about a phone call between President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The Friday’s conversation between Iranian and American presidents was the highest-level contact between the two countries in more than three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Both Rouhani and Obama underlined the need for a political will for resolving the West’s standoff with Iran over the Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program.
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