President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he will renew efforts for a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s suspected attempt to build a nuclear weapon, but denied that any talks with Tehran were imminent.
Obama told a news conference that reports that emerged before his re-election on Nov. 6 of impending U.S. talks with Iran were “not true and … are not true as of today.” But he said diplomacy remains his preferred option.
“I will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between Iran and - not just us but the international community - to see if we can get this thing resolved,” he said.
“We’re not going let Iran get a nuclear weapon, but I think there is still a window of time for us to resolve this diplomatically,” added Obama.
“I can’t promise that Iran will walk through the door that they need to walk through, but that would be very much the preferable option,” he said.
Tehran denies U.S. and Israeli allegations it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability, saying its program is entirely peaceful. But U.N. inspectors suspect past, and perhaps ongoing, military-related nuclear work is geared toward building a bomb.
Obama said tough economic sanctions imposed by Western nations were hurting Iran’s economy and he believed Iranians could find a way to use nuclear energy peacefully while assuring the world that it is not trying to build a weapon.
In another sign diplomacy between Iran and major powers may be poised to resume, diplomats in Washington said officials from five major world powers and Germany planned to meet next week, possibly in Brussels, to chart strategy for a new round of talks with Iran.
The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - a group collectively known as the P5+1 - planned to send their foreign ministry political directors to the talks.