WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Tuesday rebuffed a call from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for direct talks with President Barack Obama, urging Tehran to pay more seriousness on addressing the international concerns over its nuclear program.
"We have always said that we'd be willing to sit down and discuss Iran's illicit nuclear program, if Iran is serious about doing that," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, adding "To date, that seriousness has not been there."
As Washington has been mounting more unilateral sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, President Ahmadinejad said Monday that he is ready to hold face-to-face talks with Obama on global developments at the upcoming UN General Assembly.
"I would like to declare my readiness to have face-to-face talks in the presence of world media with the U.S. president at the UN General Assembly," the president was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying.
Early on Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting would be a good opportunity for face-to-face talks between Ahmadinejad and Obama over global issues.
"If the U.S. president expresses his readiness, it would be a good opportunity for face-to-face transparent talks at the UN General Assembly," Mehmanparast told reporters at his weekly press briefing.
Also on Tuesday, the Obama administration imposed further sanctions on Iran by identifying 21 entities, including banks, investment companies and technology firms, who are believed to be owned or controlled by the Iranian government.
The United States and its Western allies worry that Tehran may obtain the uranium fuel needed for developing nuclear weapons. That claim was rejected by the Iranian government, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purpose only.
The Obama administration has been trying the "dual-track" strategy, a combination of diplomatic mediation and economic sanctions, to bring the international community together to make Iranian leaders realize the "importance of changing their actions and decisions concerning their nuclear program."
After pushing the UN Security Council to adopt Resolution 1929 for imposing more sanctions on Iran in June, the Obama administration has been trying to make more countries take unilateral sanctions against Tehran.