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Iran's Supreme Leader Approves Talks With US on Iraq


Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says he approves of talks between Iran and the United States on stabilizing Iraq, but he adds a warning that the United States must not try to "bully" Iran.

In a televised speech Tuesday, the ayatollah said meetings should go ahead, if Iranian officials can make the United States understand Tehran's views about Iraq. However, if such contacts result in - in his words - "opening a venue for bullying Iran," then further talks will be forbidden.

The United States and Iran both say any meetings they may have will focus only on ways to bring stability to Iraq.

President Bush said Tuesday such talks would allow U.S. officials to show Tehran - as he put it - "what's right or wrong" with Iran's alleged activities in Iraq.

Mr. Bush also stressed that Iran must understand that it cannot be allowed to make nuclear weapons, in the interest of world security.

Ayatollah Khamenei delivered his speech several hours after Mr. Bush's comments at a news conference in Washington. The Iranian leader said Iran will not agree to any U.N. Security Council ruling on its nuclear program that goes against Tehran's interests.

The Security Council has delayed its meeting on Iran to allow five permanent Council members and Germany more time to agree on how to press Iran to suspend uranium-enrichment activities and comply with international standards.

The United States suspects Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies the charge.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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