GILANGHARB, Iran, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Saturday denied a U.S. allegation Iran plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States in a Washington attack.
Khamenei called the allegation "meaningless and absurd" in a speech before thousands of people in the western Iranian city of Gilangharb, CNN reported.
"They (the U.S.) want to isolate Iran," Khamenei said as some chanted "down with America."
It marked Khamenei's first comments on the alleged plot.
The U.S. Justice Department announced this week it had foiled a murder-for-hire scheme in which two Iranians with connections to the al-Quds force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard attempted to hire a Mexican man to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir in Washington in spring 2012 in return for $1.5 million.
U.S. officials said the two men involved were Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Gholam Shakuri, a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. But the man they thought was a Mexican hit man actually was a paid informant of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Arbabsiar, arrested by U.S. authorities, has been indicted by a U.S. court. Shakuri was indicted in absentia because he was in Iran.
CNN also said an Iranian official denied U.S. claims that a high-level U.S. diplomat had met with an Iranian counterpart over the plot.
"There were no kinds of negotiations between the two countries, and there was not such a contact," said Alireza Miryousefi, press secretary for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations.
Two State Department officials said the meeting occurred Wednesday between Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Mohammad Khazai, Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations.