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Iran's Leader Blasts US, Calls Democracy a Failure


Iran's president has declared in a letter to President Bush that democracy has failed worldwide, and accused the United States of spreading hatred. U.S. officials have dismissed the letter as unhelpful in addressing the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

In a rambling 18-page letter, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad criticizes President Bush's handling of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and accuses the United States of spreading lies about the Iraq war.

A copy of the letter obtained by VOA through European diplomats Tuesday makes almost no reference to Iran's nuclear intentions. Instead, it focuses on alleged wrongdoing by the United States.

In the document, the Iranian leader contends that the people of the world have lost faith in international institutions, and refers to Western-style democracy as a failed concept.

He several times mentions the Koran and urges what he calls "a return to the teachings of the divine prophets."

News of the letter had briefly raised hopes of a breakthrough in the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. But in comments to the Associated Press, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the contents do not address the nuclear issue in a concrete way.

Rice met late into the night Monday with foreign ministers of the other Security Council nations and Germany to discuss strategy on Iran.

Afterward, Britain's new Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, called the lengthy session "important but difficult." But she acknowledged there had been no agreement on any of the outstanding issues, and that the ministers had issued instructions to diplomats to continue working.

"We've sent officials away to work towards how we can express the clear determination and the insistence that Iran should comply on this matter with the will of the international community," she said. " So there is a good deal of work officials have to do against the background of clear common ground as to our objectives."

A senior U.S. official briefing reporters said prospects for agreement in the next week are "not substantially good." On the other hand, the official said he was encouraged that, "no one is leaving the table."

In a speech in Florida Tuesday, President Bush said he was committed to a diplomatic solution.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said there are as many as six issues still to be resolved before a resolution could be passed.

Diplomats on all sides say there is broad agreement that Iran should be prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. But veto-wielding Security Council powers China and Russia have objected to any Council action that would legally require Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment activity.

China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, acknowledged that Beijing opposes any action that could lead to sanctions against Iran. But he told VOA that China would prefer to find a diplomatic solution that avoids the use of a veto.

"Veto is always there, but nowadays in the Council it is how to work constructively," the ambassador said. "So each member has to consider the concerns of the others. We want to be a constructive player."

There was no immediate word on when discussions would resume on a draft Iran resolution put forward last week by France and Britain, with German and U.S. backing. The resolution would carry the force of law under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter, but Western and Asian diplomats say Russia has proposed compromise language that would soften the impact of the measure.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported to the Security Council last month that it could not confirm Iran's nuclear program was only for peaceful purpose because Tehran has not been fully open. But it found no firm evidence of a weapons project.

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