The call was to take place last week on a secure line set up by French President Emmanuel Macron who was on hand to wait for the Iranian leader who refused to leave his meeting and talk to the American president.
With no guarantee that Mr. Trump would end sanctions he has imposed on Iran, Mr. Rouhani feared he would be trapped in an encounter that could be exploited as a headline-grabbing success, the New York Times reported.
He was also mindful of the repercussions of such a call from hardliners in Tehran.
Rouhani was in New York for the UN General Assembly.
Addressing world leaders, Rouhani’s message pointed a clear way toward easing tensions and resuming negotiations: “Stop the sanctions.”
Rouhani accused the U.S. of engaging in “merciless economic terrorism” against his country, saying America had resorted to “international piracy by misusing the international banking system” to pressure Iran.
The British Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday quoting sources, that at no time did the Iranian president express a willingness to have a telephone conversation with Trump.
Macron has been trying to arrange direct discussions between the Iranian and U.S. presidents in the hopes of avoiding further escalation of tensions between the two countries after the United States pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement and increased sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
On Friday, Rouhani claimed Trump had offered to lift all sanctions against Tehran in exchange for a meeting of the two leaders.
Trump denied the account on a twitter post claiming it was Iran who was asking to talk.
Tensions have been rising in the Persian Gulf since an attack on the Saudi oil instillations which the United States attributed to Iran