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President Bush Urges Iran to Reconsider Nuclear Offer


U.S. President George Bush is calling on Iran's leaders to drop their objections to a modified package of incentives put forward by the five UN permanent Security Council members plus Germany. From Paris, VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports the dispute over Iran's nuclear program and other Mideast issues dominated the agenda when Mr. Bush met with French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

The president is touring Europe in an effort to win even more support for U.S. policies on the Middle East.

He is urging unity on Iran, where a government spokesman has rejected the set of incentives delivered to Tehran by the European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana. The spokesman says Iran will not suspend uranium enrichment.

President Bush says he is disappointed. "It's an indication to the Iranian people that their leadership is willing to isolate them further," said Mr. Bush, "and our view is we want the Iranian people to flourish."

Iran was one of many international issues that dominated Mr. Bush's talks with French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

At a joint press conference in Paris, both leaders expressed their strong support for Lebanese sovereignty. Mr. Bush also called on Syria to not only stop its interference in Lebanon's affairs, but to rethink ties between Damascus and Tehran. "My message would be stop fooling around with the Iranians and stop harboring terrorists," he said.

Mr. Bush was also asked about the prospect for a U.S. security agreement with Iraq, which would provide a legal basis for American troops to remain after the current U.N. mandate expires. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says negotiations are deadlocked.

The president said he remains hopeful. "If I was a betting man, [I would say] we will reach an agreement with the Iraqis," he added.

The Iraq war created tensions between the United States and France which have eased since Nicholas Sarkozy became French president last year. He says both the American and French governments are known for their strong opinions, but they have realized they can listen and learn from each other.

"We can talk very frankly when we have points of disagreement," said Mr. Sarkozy, "but we have to do so as allies and as friends."

Later in the day, President Bush paid tribute to American and French troops killed in the line of battle.

His schedule included a trip to a U.S. military cemetery, and a French monument to the resistance fighters of World War II.