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Bush, Olmert Stand United Against Iranian Nuclear Weapons


U.S. President George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert say they are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for the peaceful civilian purpose of generating electricity.

The president and prime minister met in the Oval Office where they told reporters before their meeting that they would discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and Syrian involvement in Lebanon.

But Iran clearly tops the agenda. President Bush said the international community must be united in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"Iran is an existential threat to peace, and it is very important for the world to take the Iranian threat seriously, which the United States does, as the prime minister will tell you," he said.

Prime Minister Olmert said Iran is the world's main threat.

He told the annual meeting of a pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington Tuesday that the world community must use drastic measures to convince Iran that pursuing nuclear weapons will have what he called devastating consequences.

The latest U.S. intelligence assessment on Iran says Tehran had a secret nuclear weapons program that it suspended in 2003. Israel believes that program is continuing under the guise of a civilian uranium enrichment program.

Iran says it has the sovereign right to enrich uranium for nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

The prime minister's visit to Washington comes as investigations into a political corruption scandal continue at home.

Political opponents and leaders from his own coalition are calling for Mr. Olmert's resignation following allegations that he received bribes from a U.S. businessman.

The prime minister denies the allegations and has said he will step down if indicted.

Asked how that political uncertainty affects the goal of outlining a Palestinian state before President Bush leaves office, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said there is no denying the investigation, but she believes it has not clouded anyone's vision for defining a Palestinian state by the end of the year.

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