Bush rules out meeting with Ahmadinejad
Both US and Iranian presidents are scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, but Bush said the two would not meet. ‘I have made it clear that we will sit down with the Iranians once they verifiably suspend their enrichment program. I meant what I said,' Bush states
WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush declared Friday that he has no intention of meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York next week.
Bush and Ahmadinejad are expected to carry speeches Tuesday in front of the UN General Assembly, with Bush’s oration scheduled for the morning hours and Ahmadinejad’s for the evening.
Bush addressed the press at the White House’s Rose Garden Friday. When asked whether he would take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the Iranian president, he responded unequivocally, “No. No I will not meet with him.”
Bush reiterated the conditions for the US to speak with Iranian leaders, namely, when the nation has verifiably halted uranium enrichment.
The US president noted that during Hizbullah’s offensive against Israel in Lebanon in July, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1696, which gave Iran an ultimatum - the 31st of August - to stop enriching uranium. A few weeks have already passed since the deadline, and Iran has failed to make any moving towards compliance.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice clarified during a meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni this week that discussions were finished and the matter would be set before the UN next week.
Bush again emphasized that Iran must be prevented from developing nuclear weapons.
The president noted that internationally there was a “common consensus” on the issue, and the aim is to advance towards a solution without allowing Iran to plant obstacles to the progress. "I have made it clear that we will sit down with the Iranians once they verifiably suspend their enrichment program. I meant what I said," Bush stated.
He said his trip to New York aimed to clarify that the process must be advanced quickly, without Iran disrupting it.
Ahmadinejad, on his part, hoped the New York event would pit US and the West in debate against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and the nations of the Non-aligned Movement, and last week challenged Bush to a televised debate.
'Frustrated' by UN
Ahead of his departure to New York to address the UN General Assembly, Bush expressed dissatisfaction with the organization. He said the Americans were frustrated with the functioning of the UN.
Speaking of the situation in Darfur, Bush said: “The problem is that the United Nations hasn't acted. And so I can understand why those who are concerned about Darfur are frustrated. I am," he said.
"I'd like to see more robust United Nations action." He further hinted that the UN should better use American tax money.
'Enemy wants to attack again'
Meanwhile, facing a Republican revolt in the Senate, Bush urged Congress to join in backing legislation to spell out strategies for interrogating and trying terror suspects, saying "the enemy wants to attack us again."
"Time is running out," Bush told reporters. "Congress needs to act wisely and promptly."
Bush denied that the United States might lose the high ground in the eyes of world opinion, as former Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested.
"It's unacceptable to think there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective," said Bush, growing animated as he spoke.