The Iranian Foreign Ministry has revealed that American President Donald Trump wanted to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in September, but the latter refused to meet him.

Speaking at a press conference in Tehran earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Gamsemi said that it happened during the UN General Assembly in the third week of September. “The American side offered a meeting between the two, which was refused by President Hassan Rouhani,” he told the press.

According to Gamsemi, Trump’s statement that he would not certify the key agreement of 2015 between the West Asian nation and the world powers (which lifted sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbing the Iranian nuclear programme) prompted President Rouhani to turn down the proposal.

Gamsemi also revealed that the White House’s Chief of Staff John Kelly had requested Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to arrange a meeting between the two presidents on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. He made the request hours after President Trump delivered a speech at the UNGA in which he strongly criticised Iran for supporting terrorism and pursuing the development of a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, the spokesperson rubbished the media report that French President Emmanuel Macron had offered to mediate between the two leaders.

The Iranian official claimed that President Rouhani was not all happy with Trump administration’s move. The president, who arrived in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, spoke to then-US President Barack Obama over phone in 2013 and the two leaders decided to co-operate with each other. Gamsemi stressed that it was the highest-level contact between the two ‘belligerent’ countries in decades, prompting an outcry from Iranian hardliners. (Unfortunately) since then, there has been no such communication between the two countries, which officially severed diplomatic ties in 1979.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]