U.S. President Barack Obama said, during a debate Monday with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, there was no truth to claims in The New York Times that an agreement was made "in principle" to discuss nuclear issues directly with the Iranian government.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama, since taking office in 2009, has been "open to considering bilateral talks with Iran" to ensure Iran meets its nuclear transparency obligations.
"The president made clear the window of opportunity here will not remain open forever, and he will not tolerate -- if we get to the point of negotiation with Iran -- endless negotiations or negotiations that serve merely as a stall tactic," the spokesman said.
Iran is suspected of pursuing the technology needed to manufacture a nuclear weapon, an allegation the government there denies.
Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV reports Tehran denied there were formal plans to speak directly with Washington. Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani said his government was prepared only to discuss the Afghan mission with the U.S. government directly.