Iranian President Hassan Rowhani has declined to meet with Obama administration officials on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, according to White House pool reports.
The White House offered to powwow with Rowhani but was rebuffed earlier this afternoon, according to the report.
“Senior administration officials came to pool hold around 2:45 p.m. to say that the White House had offered to have ‘an encounter’ on the sidelines of UNGA with Iranian President Rowhani, but the Iranians informed the U.S. today that it is ‘too complicated for Iranians to do at this point,’” the report states.
Iran’s refusal to meet with the White House complicates Obama’s plans to engage Rowhani and his leaders.
Obama reiterated the need for face-to-face diplomacy with the Iranians during his U.N. address earlier on Tuesday.
However, the Iranians continue to express opposition to the White House, despite claims that they too are open to meeting with Western leaders.
“There will be no meeting,” one official said, according to the pool report.
“It was clear that it was too complicated for them,” the report quoted the official as saying.
Secretary of State John Kerry is still slated to meet with his Iranian counterpart to discuss “the nuclear issue,” according to the pool report.
“The U.S. and Iranian officials had been discussing an encounter for days, officials said,” according to the report. “What we indicated was we were open to the two leaders having an encounter here on the margins, officials said.”
White House officials said Iran’s refusal to meet with them is representative of that government’s complicated internal dynamics.
“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 in the pool report sent by Wall Street Journal reporter Carol Lee.