Ahmadinejad Challenges Bush to Debate
- Iran president wants to debate Bush
Aug 29, 2006
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday
challenged the authority of the U.N. Security Council as Iran faces a
deadline to halt its uranium enrichment and he called for a televised
debate with President Bush on world issues.
The White House dismissed the idea of a debate, describing it as a
The Security Council has given Iran until Thursday to suspend
enrichment, a process that can produce either fuel for a reactor or
material for weapons, or face economic and political sanctions.
"The U.S. and Britain are the source of many tensions," Ahmadinejad
said at a news conference. "At the Security Council, where they have
to protect security, they enjoy the veto right. If anybody confronts
them, there is no place to take complaints to.
"This (veto right) is the source of problems of the world. ... It is
an insult to the dignity, independence, freedom and sovereignty of
nations," he said.
Ahmadinejad challenged Bush to a live, televised debate on "world
issues and the ways of solving the problems of the international
He said such a debate would show "the proposals of the Iranian nation
on how to run the world better, different from the U.S. method of use
In dismissing Ahmadinejad's proposal, White House spokeswoman Dana
Perino said the United States was willing to talk to Iran in the
context of a "positive response" to the package of incentives offered
by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
DEADLINE LOOMS: U.N. Unlikely to confront Iran
"Talk of a debate is just a diversion from the legitimate concerns
that the international community, not just the U.S., has about Iran's
behavior, from support for terrorism to pursuit of a nuclear weapons
capability," Perino said, adding: "Iran may want to look first to
allowing free expression and open debate within its borders, as
opposed to the current practice of crushing dissent."
It was not the first overture Ahmadinejad made to Bush. Earlier this
year, he wrote a letter to Bush that was promptly dismissed by
Washington as irrelevant and not addressing the key issue of its
Iran says its nuclear program is intended solely to generate
electricity, while the United States and Europe contend it secretly
aims to develop weapons.
Ahmadinejad rejected any suspension of enrichment, even if U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked for it during an upcoming visit to
"The use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is the right of the
Iranian nation. The Iranian nation has chosen this path. ... No one
can prevent it," he said.
Iran last week responded to the incentive package aimed at getting
Tehran to roll back its nuclear program. Iranian officials said the
Islamic country did not agree to halt enrichment the key demand
before engaging in further talks.
Ahmadinejad called the response an opportunity for the two sides to
resolve the issue and he didn't rule out the possibility of direct
talks with the United States.
"The opportunity the Iranian nation has given to other countries today
is a very exceptional opportunity for a fair resolution of the issue,"
The Iranian president also called Israel a threat to peace and
stability in the Middle East.
"The Zionist regime has deprived the Palestinian nation and other
nations of the region of a single day of peace. In the past 60 years,
it has imposed tens of wars on the Palestinian nation and others," he
Iran's Leader Calls for TV Debate With Bush
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on US President
George W. Bush to participate in a "direct television debate with us,"
so Iran can voice its point of view on how to end world predicaments.
"But the condition is that there can be no censorship, especially for
the American nation," he said Tuesday.
AIPAC urges U.S. to shut Iranian Web site
By Yossi Melman
29 August 2006
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is
urging the United States government to disconnect an
Iranian news site from American Internet servers, charging
that the site has ties to terrorist organizations. The
allegation is based on a report published by Haaretz last
According to the Haaretz report, the site, Baztab,
published details about a month ago of what it termed "an
interrogation" of the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by
Hezbollah on July 12. Baztab's report claimed that the
soldiers had admitted that Israel planned a military
attack on Hezbollah in September or October, and the
kidnapping had foiled this plan.
Based on this report and other information published on
the site, AIPAC concluded that Baztab, which is supported
by an American server, has ties with a terrorist
organization. It therefore asked the U.S. Treasury
Department to order the site shut down.
Former President of Iran Invited to Speak in D.C.
By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 22, 2006; Page A11
Despite a looming diplomatic showdown with Iran over its nuclear
program, the Bush administration has agreed to issue a visa to former
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to give a public address at the
Washington National Cathedral next month, according to the Rev. Canon
John L. Peterson, director of the Center for Global Justice and
Khatami would be the most senior Iranian to visit Washington since
Iran's 1979 revolution and the 1979-1981 takeover of the U.S. Embassy,
which led Washington to sever relations with a country that had been
one of its two closest allies in the Middle East.
The State Department said yesterday that it had not yet approved a
visa for Khatami because he has not yet formally applied, which he
must do outside Iran.
The White House decision to allow a prominent Iranian reformer to
visit comes at a time of mounting tension with the new hard-line
leadership in Tehran. Iran is expected to give its official answer
today to a U.S.-backed package of incentives designed to get Tehran to
give up uranium enrichment, a process in a peaceful nuclear energy
program that can be converted to develop a nuclear weapon.
Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said Friday that the United
States is ready to push for new international sanctions on Iran at the
United Nations if it does not accept the undisclosed package. Burns's
office made the decision to grant the visa, according to the cathedral.
Khatami, a former minister of culture once purged by hard-liners, was
a dark-horse presidential candidate in 1997 who led a sweeping upset
that began a period of freer press, talk of political reform, cultural
openings and encouragement of exchanges with the outside world.
American tourists even returned to Iran.
In 1998, Khatami urged an end to the "wall of mistrust" between Iran
and the United States. He also made an overture to the West by calling
for a dialogue of civilizations, a proposal adopted by the United
Nations when it declared 2001 the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.
But relations between the two countries have remained locked during
the Clinton and Bush administrations over Iran's support for groups
that rejected the Arab-Israeli peace process, its backing of militant
groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and its potential to subvert its
Evan Anderson, deputy director of the Center For Global Justice and
Reconciliation, said the visit comes at a critical juncture in
U.S.-Iran relations, particularly in light of the current crisis in
the Middle East.
The Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, dean of the cathedral, said, "It will be
an honor for the cathedral to provide a platform for President
Khatami." He added: "President Khatami's commitment to a dialogue
between civilizations and cultures is an important component in the
peace process. This is much needed in the world today."
After serving two terms, the presidential limit, Khatami left office
last year, and the clerical board that certifies candidates did not
allow other reform candidates to run to replace him. He was succeeded
by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, who has come into his own
politically by capitalizing on tensions with the West over the nuclear
Reformers have since been further sidelined, and some have been
prosecuted. The new government has also ridiculed the Bush
administration project to provide $75 million to foster democracy in Iran.
After leaving office, Khatami endorsed Iran's right to enrich uranium,
which is legal under terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But U.S.
and European officials believe Iran is intent on secretly developing
In February, Khatami founded the International Institute for Dialogue
Among Civilizations and Cultures, headquartered in Tehran. He plans to
speak in Washington on the dialogue of civilizations and the role the
three Abrahamic faiths -- Islam, Judaism and Christianity -- can play
in the peace process. Plans call for the event, at the National
Cathedral at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 7, to be free and open to the public.
Before visiting Washington, Khatami is scheduled to attend a U.N.
conference as part of the Alliance of Civilizations, led by the prime
ministers of Spain and Turkey.
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