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Bush terms diplomacy ''most important option'' in Iran nuclear iss

Written by: Staff

Washington, May 10 (UNI) President George Bush has said that in the conflict over Iran's nuclear programme, the first and ''most important option'' is diplomacy.

He said other countries have agreed with the United States on the goal of not allowing Iran to possess or have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon.

Speaking in Sun City Center in Florida yesterday, Bush said, ''The first choice and a choice that I think will work with the Iranians is diplomacy. And I believe we can accomplish this through diplomacy.'' Commenting on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's discussions at the United Nations, the President said, ''We are at an early stage of diplomacy at this point in time, but through hard work, we will continue to keep people bound together because there is a common interest to prevent the Iranians from getting that weapon.'' He said it was important for the Iranian government to know that their country faces isolation from the rest of the world and that ''much of the world shares the same demands'' that negotiators are laying out.

Bush declined to speculate on the possibility of economic sanctions or other consequences of Iran's non-compliance, saying, ''I think it's very important for good negotiators to keep their cards close to the vest and, then at the appropriate time, make it clear what our intentions are.'' In the long run, Bush said he hoped that an American president will ultimately be able to tell the Iranian people, ''You're free, and we look forward to having good relations with you.'' ''Freedom has the capacity to change enemies into friends.

And so in the long run, the best way to deal with problems such as the Iranian problem is to encourage people to be free,'' the President said.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan responded to questions about the letter sent to President Bush on May 8 by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Speaking aboard Air Force One en route to Sarasota, Florida, McClellan said the letter ''does nothing at all to address the concerns of the international community or that the international community has regarding the regime's nuclear programme.'' The spokesman repeated calls for Tehran to comply with its international obligations.


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