The State Department confirmed Tuesday that Iran declined a special high-level meeting with the Trump administration during the United Nations General Assembly.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert resisted reporters’ efforts to identify the specific Trump administration official who would have participated in the meeting. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had his own meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other diplomats involved in the Iran nuclear deal talks. Iranian officials claimed Sunday that the regime declined to meet with President Trump himself.
“They did,” Nauert replied when asked if that Iranian account about rejecting a second meeting was correct.
But she didn't answer the more direct question of whether Trump would have attended the prospective meeting. “They did turn down a meeting with U.S. officials,” she said when asked.
Nauert’s Iranian counterpart claimed Sunday that Iran refused to meet with Trump after he denounced the regime as a pariah sponsor of terrorism at the UN General Assembly. "A request indeed was made by the U.S. side, but it wasn’t accepted by President [Hassan] Rouhani," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Sunday, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denied that Trump was snubbed, according to NBC. But the incident sheds light on the Trump team’s diplomatic engagement with Iran, even as the administration geared up for a major condemnation of the nuclear deal negotiated by former President Obama. “The Iranian officials said no, and that was the end of it,” Nauert said.