Iran responds to US written offer for dialogue on 'assassination plot'
TEHRAN - The United States recently made a written offer to speak with Iran over allegations of an assassination plot, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tuesday, implying that Tehran rejected it.
"Not long ago we received a letter from US officials that, as usual, contained contradictory and baseless issues," he said, according to state television's website.
"They expressed interest in dialogue. The content of the letter was not very important," he was quoted as saying.
Salehi said "we sent our response."
He did not elaborate, though the foreign ministry's spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said separately that Iran had replied with a letter of its own demanding an "apology" from the United States over the "made-up" allegations.
On Saturday, Salehi had dismissed declarations made last week by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying her government was still "prepared to engage" with Iran, even as it levelled sanctions on the Islamic republic.
Clinton's offer was undermined by its "contradictions," Salehi said, adding: "It seems that the time (for rapprochement) has not arrived yet."
Iran has fiercely and repeatedly denied any involvement in the alleged plot, which the United States said implicated an Iranian-American car salesman in custody and Iranian officials in a plan to hire a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
US officials said they had sought to discuss their allegations with Iranian officials, but Tehran denied that any direct talks had taken place.
Iranian officials and leaders have called the alleged plot an attempt by Washington to divert attention from domestic economic woes and foreign policy failures in the Middle East.
Iran and the United States broke off diplomatic relations more than three decades ago, after Islamic students took US diplomats hostage in the then-embassy in Tehran following Iran's 1979 revolution.