White House denies Obama trip to Iran in the works

Dec. 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The White House Monday denied a report that President Obama is scoping out a trip to Iran next year.

"There is no truth to this report," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told The Hill in an email.

Kuwait's al-Jarida reported on its website U.S. and Iranian officials were working through a presidential visit sometime in mid-2014. The report cited an unnamed U.S. diplomat and said a sticking point was whether Obama would meet with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

"The source said that the desire to visit is shared, and that Tehran and Washington are waiting for the conclusion of the arrangements prior to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issuing an official invitation to his American counterpart to visit Tehran," an English translation of the report posted by the conservative Weekly Standard said.

Relations between the United States and Iran have thawed somewhat since the more moderate Rouhani took office in August. He made a trip to the United States in September for a United Nations General Assembly meeting but did meet with Obama or travel to Washington.

Late that month, Obama became the first U.S. president to speak by phone to his Iranian counterpart since the 1979 revolution in which students held 52 hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days. In October, the two countries agreed on a historic preliminary deal on Iran's nuclear program.

However, the United States still considers Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and the two countries back opposite sides in Syria's civil war.

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