Roundup: Iranian President sends letter to Bush over nuclear issue

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent a letter to his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush over Iran's disputed nuclear program, as some countries continued to call for a diplomatic solution.

In an interview with Turkey's private NTV television channel on Monday, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who is on a visit to Turkey, said Ahmadinejad's letter "could lead to a new diplomatic opening."

The letter was delivered to Bush through the Swiss embassy to Iran, Iranian government Spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said.

Ahmadinejad, who has vowed never to give up right to peaceful nuclear technology, proposed new solutions to the international problems in the letter, the spokesman said.

Larijani arrived in Ankara on Monday morning to seek support over Iran's nuclear issue as the UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution proposed by Britain and France that obliges Iran to freeze all uranium enrichment activities or face sanctions.

Iran was expecting Turkey to help Iran explain its sincerity on the nuclear issue, said Larijani, who affirmed that Iran did not have any military intentions with its nuclear program. "

"Iran has been cooperating with the International Atomic EnergyAgency (IAEA) and thousands of international experts have inspected the nuclear facilities in Iran," he added.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday reiterated that Iran's nuclear issue should be solved through diplomatic means.

In a meeting with Larijani, Erdogan said that Iran had the right to peaceful nuclear technology, but urged transparency over the Iranian nuclear program in a bid to appease international concerns.

"Iran has the right to have nuclear energy for peaceful objectives, so does every country. But it should be transparent," Erdogan was quoted by Anatolia news agency as saying.

Last week, Erdogan conveyed the same message to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when the two leaders met in Azerbaijan's capital of Baku on the sidelines of a regional summit.

"Turkey believes that no one can object to nuclear technology for peaceful, humanitarian aims," Erdogan told Ahmadinejad. "But, of course, no country in the world will approve the proliferation of nuclear weapons."

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy called on the UN Security Council to send a "firm and unified signal to convince Iran to return to the negotiating table."

"Not only has Iran not replied to the questions, but it has accelerated its enrichment program," Douste-Blazy said in an interview in the French daily Le Figaro in its Monday edition.

"The Security Council resolution should strengthen the authority of the IAEA and give obligatory force to its demand for the suspension of activities linked to enrichment, including that for research purposes. We must respond to Iran in a united, firm and rapid manner," he added.

The U.S. White House said on Monday that Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush did not address international concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

"It doesn't appear to do anything to address the concerns of the international community," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who is traveling with President George W. Bush to Florida.

"There are a number of concerns that the international community has with the (Iranian) regime and the letter doesn't appear to do anything to address those concerns," McClellan said.

Foreign ministers of the United Nations Security Council's five permanent member states plus Germany were to meet in New York later Monday to map out a common strategy to force Iran to halt its uranium enrichment activities.


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