President Obama on Wednesday pledged to press for fresh diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff over Iran's contested nuclear work, Reuters reported.
Obama, in his first press conference since being re-elected on Nov. 6, said that recent suggestions of near-term bilateral discussions between Tehran and Washington were "not true and ... are not true as of today." While the United States has said that use of military force remains an option in dealing with Iran, Obama said he still wants a peaceful resolution to the atomic impasse.
"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.
The president added: "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."
"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.
The United States and allied nations suspect Iran of seeking a nuclear-weapon capability under the guise of peaceful atomic activities. Iran counters that its nuclear program is aimed only at energy production and other nonmilitary pursuits. It has refused to halt uranium enrichment, which can be used for producing reactor fuel as well as nuclear-weapon material, in the face of four U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions and added economic punishment from a host of nations.
Several rounds of talks this year between Iran, the United States and five other major governments have failed to break the standoff. Senior diplomatic personnel from the six negotiating nations -- China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- appear set to hold talks next week to plan for another meeting with Tehran, envoys in Washington told Reuters.
Recent reports have indicated the powers might consider a "more for more" offer that would provide Iran with greater incentives, including sanctions relief, in return for greater compromises than leaders in Tehran have previously been willing to accept.
The latest International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards report on Iran's nuclear operations is also expected on Friday. Informed sources have said the document would show Iran is continuing to move toward full operations of its uranium enrichment plant near Qum.
Lead Iranian nuclear envoy Saeed Jalili on Wednesday said the government in Tehran "hopes that the P-5+1 will return to the negotiating table at the earliest," the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, meeting with Jalili in Tehran on Wednesday, also called for further talks involving Iran, Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the Associated Press reported.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi on Wednesday said "the issue of relations or negotiations with the U.S. is neither a simple and normal thing nor a taboo," the Fars News Agency reported.
However, "If the U.S. officials still insist on their unrealistic attitude, there will remain no hope for change in the current Iran-U.S. issues," he added.