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Bush: No Direct Talks with Iran


U.S. President George Bush says there will be no direct talks with Iran until it stops enriching uranium. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, a bipartisan panel studying U.S. policy in Iraq has urged the president to include Tehran in discussions about finding a new way forward in Iraq.

President Bush says he has made it perfectly clear to Iran that there will be no direct talks until it stops enriching uranium.

"If they want to sit down with us for the good of the Iranian people, they ought to verifiably suspend their program," he said. "We have made that clear to them. It is obvious to them how to move forward."

President Bush and many of his European allies believe Iran is secretly developing a nuclear weapons program. Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for the peaceful civilian purpose of generating electricity.

Mr. Bush was asked about Iran at a White House news conference, following recommendations by a bipartisan Iraq Study Group that Washington have more direct talks with Tehran and Damascus about improving security in neighboring Iraq.

The president says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is working hard to get another U.N. resolution against Iran's nuclear program.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow does not agree with sanctions in a draft resolution that includes travel restrictions on officials linked to Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

Russia and China have both opposed sanctions against Iran, following its failure to abide by an August 31 deadline to stop enriching uranium.

President Bush criticized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for being "out of step" with the majority of thinkers. Mr. Bush says he was amazed by Iran's recent conference questioning the Holocaust and called it a backward view of the history of the world.

"My message to the Iranian people is: 'You can do better than to have somebody try to rewrite history," he said. "You can do better than somebody who has not strengthened your economy. And you can do better than having somebody who is trying to develop a nuclear weapon that the world believes you should not have.' There is a better way forward."

President Bush says there have been conversations with Damascus about improving security in Iraq, and said if Syria wants better relations it needs to take positive steps to promote peace, rather than instability.

"We have suggested to them that they no longer allow Saddamists to send money and arms across their border into Iraq to fuel some of the violence that we see," he said. "They have got to leave a democratic Lebanon alone."

Mr. Bush says he is proud of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora who he says has showed tenacity and toughness in the face of enormous pressure from Syria and from the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, which is funded by Syria and Iran.

Lebanon's Hezbollah-led opposition is calling for new elections. Arab League chief Amr Moussa is in the country for meetings with Prime Minister Siniora and Hezbollah allies in a bid to resolve the political crisis.

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