VIENNA—Iranian reports claiming that President Barack Obama sent a "secret" message to the Islamic Republic in a bid to soothe ties between the two nations are inaccurate, according to a senior Obama administration official who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
Iranian state-controlled media claimed on Monday that Obama sent a private letter to Iranian officials on Monday. The missive "focused on the nuclear standoff between the two sides," according to the Fars News Agency.
Obama was seeking to diffuse tensions between the United States and Iran ahead of an expected June 30 deadline for negotiations over Tehran’s contested nuclear program.
"An official of one of the neighboring countries has recently brought a message from the U.S. president to our country's officials," one Iranian parliament member was reported as saying by Fars.
"A different source later revealed that the letter has been delivered to Iran by Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi during his recent visit," Fars reported.
Obama is said to have "stressed" that America needs a nuclear agreement with Iran and that "Washington is in a more dire need of an agreement than Iran," Fars reported.
The Iranian official additionally claimed, "the contents of the United States' private messages to Iran are different from what the American officials say in the public."
In their private messages, they respectfully demand the Islamic Republic of Iran to come to the negotiating table and make an agreement but they threaten Iran in their media and before the eyes of their own and other countries' people," the Iranian official was quoted as saying.
However, the White House denied on Monday that any letter had been sent.
"Reports that the president recently sent a letter to Iran’s leadership are not accurate," a senior Obama administration official told the Free Beacon. "We have left the difficult work of the nuclear negotiations to our team on the ground in Vienna."
Sources in Vienna say the Obama administration is angling to allow Iran to continue hiding its past nuclear work. Experts and diplomats have for years insisted that such disclosures by Iran are a necessary prerequisite to any deal that seeks to roll back the country’s nuclear program.