With talks stalled and the nuclear deal hanging by a thread, Iran’s president already is nixing the prospect of a meeting with President Biden when the two leaders are in New York this week for the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.
The trip to New York by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was already controversial, with lawmakers in Congress pressuring the Biden administration not to allow him to travel to the U.N. gathering. The State Department said the U.S. is obligated to allow all foreign leaders to come to the U.N. as the host site for the world body.
Mr. Raisi will address the assembly, but “I do not think such a meeting is going to take place,” he told the CBS News program “60 Minutes” in an interview to be broadcast Sunday evening.
The Iranian state Tasnim News Agency reported the remarks ahead of the program’s airing.
“I don’t believe having a meeting or a talk with him will be beneficial,” the hard-line Iranian president said.
Iran insists it remains interested in reviving the multi-national deal, negotiated by the Obama administration in 2015 but repudiated by President Trump in 2018. The accord curbs Iran’s suspect nuclear programs in exchange for the lifting of harsh international sanctions on Iran’s economy.
Mr. Biden came to office promising to restore the accord, but nearly two years of talks have yet to produce a deal, with U.S. officials saying Tehran insisting on last-minute changes outside the scope of the original deal.
But Mr. Raisi, who met with Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday before traveling to New York, said it was Washington that was blocking an agreement. The sanctions Mr. Trump re-imposed on Iran remain in effect as the negotiating continues in Vienna.
“The new administration in the U.S., they claim that they are different from the Trump administration,” Mr. Raisi told “60 Minutes.”
“They have said it in their messages to us, but we haven’t witnessed any changes in reality,” he maintained.