President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel say they will continue to work together in a diplomatic effort to convince Iran to stop enriching uranium. President Bush says Iran is secretly developing a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is meant to generate electricity.
Speaking through a translator, Chancellor Merkel said she and President Bush are in total agreement that under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. "We are in agreement also that a diplomatic solution needs to be found and we do see good chances of bringing this about, but we also think that it is essential in this context that the clear resolve of the international community is shown by standing united by showing cohesion on this matter," she said.
Chancellor Merkel says it is crucial to draw as many partners as possible into the process to clearly show Iran that its uranium enrichment is unacceptable.
Her White House meeting comes one week after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia and China oppose sanctions and could use their Security Council vetoes to block any resolution making compulsory previous requests that Iran stop enriching uranium.
Britain and France Wednesday introduced a resolution that would obligate Iran to halt its uranium enrichment activities. The head of Iran's nuclear program said the nation has enriched uranium to the upper end of the range needed to make fuel for reactors.
President Bush said it is an important achievement that the international community is now united behind the goal of stopping Iran from having a nuclear weapon or the capacity to make such a weapon. "The Chancellor and I, of course, obviously agree on that but so do other partners in this effort such as the Russians. They agree that the Iranians should not have nuclear. It's a good starting point. And now we are talking about the tactics, how to achieve that objective. One such tactic is to go to the United Nations Security Council," he said.
President Bush says Iran must understand that the international opposition to its nuclear program will not fold, that the partnership is strong, and that for the sake of world peace, Tehran should abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.
After their Oval Office meeting, Chancellor Merkel and President Bush had some private time in the White House residence before dinner. The German Chancellor delivers a speech to business leaders in New York Thursday before returning to Washington where she will be the first German leader to address a meeting of the American Jewish Community.
She will be joined at ceremonies marking that group's 100th anniversary by President Bush and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.