U.S. says Obama open to Iran talks if Tehran serious about ending nuclear arms program

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is open to direct talks between Iran and the United States but only if Tehran is serious about getting rid of its nuclear weapons program, the White House said on Thursday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivered some positive-sounding rhetoric in an NBC News interview but "actions are more important than words."

When Obama first ran for president in 2008, he said he would hold direct negotiations with Iran under certain conditions. Carney said Obama still holds that position.

Obama, according to Carney, would be willing to have bilateral negotiations provided the Iranians were serious about addressing the international community's insistence that Tehran give up its nuclear weapons program.

"That is the position we hold today," Carney said.

With both Rouhani and Obama attending the U.N. General Assembly next week, speculation has grown that the two leaders might have an encounter of some type. Carney said no meeting is scheduled.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham)

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