TEHRAN - Iran's government has confirmed turning down an offer for talks from the United States as tensions between the two countries show no sign of abating.
The comments by government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Sunday came after the New Yorker magazine reported on Friday that US Senator Rand Paul, acting with permission from President Donald Trump, had extended an invitation to Iran's foreign minister during his visit to New York last month for meetings at the United Nations.
Minister of foreign affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif told Paul it was up to the Iranian government in Tehran to decide on accepting or rejecting the invitation to the White House, the New Yorker reported, with the foreign minister also expressing concern that any meeting might end up as little more than a photo opportunity. Iran's leaders did not approve a meeting, the magazine said.
The invitation for talks came just days before the US imposed sanctions on Zarif for "reprehensible" behaviour, for having links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and for functioning "as a propaganda minister, not a foreign minister".
Rabiei said on Sunday the measures against Zarif were "against all diplomatic procedures", calling Washington's move "an unprecedented event in the history of diplomacy".
"That one government keeps claiming to be ready for negotiations and then to put sanction on [the] foreign minister of that country - well isn't it ridiculous?" he told reporters.
"He was invited by a senator to have a meeting at the White House, then they imposed sanctions on him. Foreign Minister Zarif is responsible for foreign policy and any diplomatic path should passed through him."(FA)