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Bush Offers Iran Earthquake Assistance


President Bush is offering to help Iran after three earthquakes there killed at least 66 people.

President Bush expressed his condolences for the loss of life and said his thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones. He offered humanitarian assistance for those affected by the earthquakes in Iran despite his opposition to what he says is Tehran's goal of developing a nuclear weapon.

"We obviously have our differences with the Iranian government but we do care about the suffering of the Iranian people," he said.

Three earthquakes struck western Iran overnight Thursday, flattening homes, destroying villages and injuring more than a thousand people. The official news agency says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered all available resources to the stricken region.

Speaking at the close of a two-day summit with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, President Bush repeated his opposition to Iran enriching uranium, pointing to a statement this week by the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council as a sign of international unity.

"There is common agreement that the Iranians should not have a nuclear weapon, the capacity to make a nuclear weapon, or the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon," he said. "And the reason there is common agreement is because the Iranian government with such a weapon as it is now constituted would pose a serious threat to world security."

China and Russia agreed to the statement criticizing Iran's nuclear program and calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency to report back within 30 days on whether Tehran is curtailing that work.

But Beijing and Moscow are less enthusiastic about Washington's plans for economic sanctions if Iran does not comply.

President Bush says the international community agrees on the goal of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. He says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is now working with Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany on how best to achieve that goal.

Iran says it has the right to a nuclear program that it says is solely for the peaceful civilian purpose of generating electricity.

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