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Ahmadinejad Applies to Visit US for UN Nuclear Meeting

The U.S. State Department says Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has applied to visit the United States as part of an Iranian delegation to a U.N. nuclear conference in New York.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday the United States has a responsibility as the host of the U.N. headquarters to accept the Iranian president's visa request.

The Iranian delegation is due to participate in a conference aimed at reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory. The monthlong conference begins Monday and has been held every five years since the NPT went into effect in 1970.

Crowley says Washington wants to see Mr. Ahmadinejad play a constructive role in the conference.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran and accuses Tehran of secretly trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Washington also is leading a diplomatic effort to place additional U.N. sanctions on Iran for its refusal to stop nuclear activities that could be diverted for military use.

As part of that effort, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a U.S. ally, urged his Chinese counterpart to consider supporting sanctions against Iran if negotiations fail to stop its sensitive nuclear activities. Mr. Sarkozy made his case to China's Hu Jintao during a meeting Wednesday in Beijing.

China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has commercial ties with Iran and has said it favors diplomacy to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute.