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White House rebuffs Iran call for talks

The White House has rejected a call from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for face-to-face talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama.

“We have always said that we’d be willing to sit down and discuss Iran’s illicit nuclear program, if Iran is serious about doing that,” AFP quoted White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs as saying on Tuesday.

“To date, that seriousness has not been there,” he added.

Gibbs, however, held the door open to US-Iran talks as the State Department saw signs that Iran may now be seeking a dialogue with Tehran under the pressure of “new sanctions.”

Also, US State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said, “Iran may now be seeking a dialogue with Washington because it is feeling the bite of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, the United States, European Union and others.”

“The cost of doing business for Iran is going up,” Crowley said.

His comments come as Tehran has repeatedly declared that it will not relinquish the legitimate nuclear rights of the Iranian nation under Western pressure.

“We’re encouraged by what we’re seeing… We sense that there may well be a willingness on the part of Iran to enter into the kind of dialogue that we have long sought,” he added.

“We are willing to meet Iran any time any place within the P5-plus-1,” he concluded, referring to the US, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany.

On Monday, Ahmadinejad criticized Obama for missing “historic opportunities” to repair the broken relations with Iran and expressed readiness to meet him for face-to-face talks based on justice and mutual respect.

In an address to a gathering of Iranian expatriates in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said that he is ready to hold talks with Obama at the end of September, when he plans to go to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

“We are ready to sit down with Mr. Obama face-to-face and put the global issues on the table, and see whose solutions are better. We think this is a better approach,” Ahmadinejad said.

The Iranian president went on to say that he is ready to hold talks with President Obama “in front of the media” at the end of September, when he plans to go to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, Mehr News Agency reported.

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