President Bush and the U.S. State Department have sent greetings to those celebrating Nowruz - the Persian and Kurdish New Year.

In a White House statement Monday, Mr. Bush called Nowruz a celebration of life and an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the beauty of nature.

The president and the State Department offered their best wishes for peace and prosperity in the New Year.

The Spring Equinox Monday marked the beginning of Nowruz, which is celebrated by people who trace their heritage to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Turkey and Central Asia.