WASHINGTON, Oct 2 (Reuters) President George W Bush is not taking seriously an invitation to visit a university in Iran, unlike his Iranian counterpart, who drew a torrent of criticism last week with a speech at Columbia University in New York.
Bush might have considered the invitation from Ferdowsi University in Mashhad if Iran was a democracy and did not seek the destruction of Israel, the White House said today.
''Obviously if Iran was a free and democratic society that allowed its people freedom of expression and wasn't pursuing nuclear weapons and wasn't advocating to destroy the country of Israel, the president might consider that invitation,'' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. ''But I think that we're not taking it too seriously.'' Bush has spoken previously at universities abroad, including in Turkey, Poland and China.
The university in northeastern Iran invited Bush to visit and discuss issues including terrorism and the Holocaust.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia University last week was met by protests and Iranian politicians were angered at his treatment.
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, in his introduction, called Ahmadinejad a ''petty and cruel dictator'' and said his Holocaust denials suggested he was either ''brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.'' REUTERS RS RAI2048