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Iran and US can agree on one thing: There are no direct talks planned

Iran's foreign minister echoed White House denials that the two countries are scheduled to have direct bilateral negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.

By Yeganeh TorbatiReuters / October 21, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks to a gathering at the University of Havana, in Havana, Cuba, in January. The White House and the Iranian government say they are prepared to talk one-on-one to find a diplomatic settlement to the impasse over Tehran's reported pursuit of nuclear weapons, but there's no specific meeting date right now.

Franklin Reyes/AP/File

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Iran followed the United States on Sunday in denying that the two countries had scheduled direct bilateral negotiations on Iran's controversial nuclear program.

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The New York Times, quoting unnamed US administration officials, had said on Saturday that secret exchanges between US and Iranian officials had yielded agreement "in principle" to hold one-on-one talks.

"We don't have any discussions or negotiations with America," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a news conference. "The [nuclear] talks are ongoing with the P5+1 group of nations. Other than that, we have no discussions with the United States."

The P5+1 group comprises the permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Britain, China, France, and Russia - plus Germany.

The United States has been working with the P5+1 to pressure Iran on its nuclear program, but with few results. The United States and other Western powers allege that the program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, but Tehran says it is purely peaceful.

White house denies

The White House also denied the newspaper report, which came two days before President Barack Obama faces Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a televised foreign policy debate.

"It's not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections," US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

"We continue to work with the P5+1 on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally."

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