White House denies private letters to Iran
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The Obama administration is denying reports the president reached out to Iran’s leadership ahead of the deadline for a nuclear deal with Tehran.

“Reports that the president recently sent a letter to Iran’s leadership are not accurate,” a senior administration official said Monday.

The official suggested President Obama has limited his involvement in the day-to-day talks as negotiators rush to complete a final agreement. “We have left the difficult work of the nuclear negotiations to our team on the ground in Vienna,” the official said.


An Iranian newspaper reported Monday that Obama sent a private message to Iran’s senior leaders ahead of the Tuesday deadline, according to Agence France-Presse.

A U.S. official said Sunday that the talks in Vienna would push past that deadline.

Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China — are seeking to finalize a deal that would curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

The talks are being led by each nation’s top diplomat, but leaders from each country are expected to sign off on a final deal.

Both sides have yet to reach an agreement on several key details, including the scope of inspections on Iran’s nuclear sites and the pace of sanctions relief.

Obama and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have reportedly communicated directly with each other in the past.

Obama wrote Khamenei last October suggesting the U.S. and Iran could collaborate on fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria if a nuclear deal is reached, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported Khamenei responded to the letter in February. U.S. and Iranian officials have not officially confirmed the correspondence.