Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted regional leaders during Persian New Year celebrations Saturday, calling for greater unity and cooperation among their countries.

Mr. Ahmadinejad celebrated Nowruz with the presidents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.  Turkey's deputy prime minister and Azerbaijan's foreign minister also took part in the summit.

The president said observing the holiday helps nations establish relations based on unity, justice, peace, and respect.

The gathering comes as Tehran faces the possibility of further international isolation due to its controversial nuclear program.  The United States is leading efforts to impose a fourth round of United Nations sanctions.  Western nations are hoping to persuade Tehran to stop enriching uranium, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear program is being developed for peaceful purposes.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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