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Iran Talks Tough Ahead of Developing Nations Conference


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on a state visit to Indonesia, continued the tough rhetoric about Israel and nuclear matters. Speaking in Jakarta, he said it was every country's right to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister accused Western powers of trying to impose their will on other nations, as foreign ministers from eight predominately Muslim countries met on Indonesia's holiday island.

President Ahmadinejad continued his fiery speeches in Jakarta Thursday telling a group of Muslim students Israel was a tyrannical regime "that will one day be destroyed."

But the Iranian head of state also said he was ready to negotiate with the United States and other Western powers over Iran's nuclear program if, as he put it, the United States "dropped its bad attitude."

Mr. Ahmadinejad's visit to Indonesia, a secular nation with the world's largest population of Muslims, takes place against a backdrop of deepening international tensions over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity, but some Western nations believe it is being used to make nuclear weapons.

The United States failed this week to drum up enough support in the U.N. Security Council for economic sanctions against Iran unless it stopped its nuclear program.

But key Security Council members have agreed to meet in two weeks to draw up a package of incentives to induce Iran to stop its nuclear program or face possible sanctions if it does not.

At a meeting of foreign ministers from eight predominately Muslim nations in Indonesia's resort island of Bali ahead of their summit Saturday, the Iranian foreign minister urged members to unite against Western dominance.

The summit of the eight Muslim developing nations is aimed at increasing economic and political cooperation, but it is being overshadowed by Iran's deepening tensions with the West.

But Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda suggested Iran would not have an easy time controlling the D-8 conference.

"We suggested that Iran should consider and, in fact, [the] international community should consider the possibility of expanding the negotiation forum by involving the permanent members of the Security Council and also some other countries who are concerned with the development of this issue. In particular, the possibility of the situation escalating into open conflict."

Hassan denied earlier reports Jakarta, which enjoys good relations with both Iran and the United States, would help mediate between Iran and the West.

"We didn't claim that we offer mediations on this nuclear issue, of course, on our part we suggested to Iran to maximize their efforts in order to solve the problems of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic and peaceful negotiations," he added.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is expected to arrive in Bali Friday along with other leaders from the D-8 nations.

The summit is expected to come up with agreements on trade and customs, as well as a declaration by leaders on global issues.

The D-8 groups Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Nigeria.

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