Iran letter makes fresh offer to US

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has written to the US president to "propose new ways" to resolve tensions between the two arch enemies, Tehran announced on Monday.

    Ahmadinejad's letter is being sent through the Swiss embassy

    "President Ahmadinejad has written a letter to George Bush, which is to be handed to the Swiss embassy," Gholam Hossein Elham, an Iranian government spokesman, told reporters.
      
    It is the first time an Iranian president has been known to officially communicate with an American president since Washington and Tehran cut diplomatic relations in 1980.
      
    "In this letter, while analysing the world situation and finding the roots of the problems, he has proposed new ways for getting out of the existing vulnerable world situation," the spokesman said.
     
    Hamid Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesman, told the ISNA news agency that "once the American president has received the letter, its content will be made public".

    President Bush has not ruled out
    military action against Iran

    The United States and Iran are at loggerheads over Tehran's nuclear programme, which Washington suspects is a cover for ambitions to build atomic weapons. Bush has not ruled out taking military action against the Islamic republic.
      
    Washington accuses Iran of supporting "terrorist" groups across the Middle East.

    Washington has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since April 1980, after the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 in which 52 Americans were held for 444 days.
      
    A source in Ahmadinejad's office told AFP the letter would be handed to the Swiss embassy on Monday.
      
    The Swiss government assumed the representation of US interests in Iran in 1981, and has since been acting as a conduit for messages between the two arch-enemies.

    Diplomacy with Turkey

    On Monday, Iran's national security chief urged the West to prefer the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the UN Security Council as the forum to find  a solution to the crisis over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

    "We want a political solution to the nuclear question," Ali  Larijani said on arrival at the Ankara airport.

    "We believe the IAEA is the forum where a solution can be found... and we do not want it bypassed in favor of the UN Security Council," he said.

    Yigit Alpogan (L) and Ali Larijani
    meet in Ankara on Monday

    Larijani began his one-day visit here with a visit to his official host, Yigit Alpogan, secretary-general of Turkey's National Security Council.

    Turkey, Iran's western neighbor, has repeatedly exhorted Tehran to be more open with the international community about its nuclear programme, and Larijani reiterated that "we remain transparent."

    Former rivals

    Once military rivals for regional supremacy, Turkey and Iran  have been at peace for nearly 370 years; their borders have remained  unchanged since and they have been allied in a number of regional  pacts over the decades.

    Turkey imports natural gas from Iran via a pipeline that became operational in 2001 under a 25-year deal signed in 1996.

    The agreement foresaw that Turkey would import four million  cubic meters (140 million cubic feet) of Iranian natural gas in  2002, with the amount gradually increasing to peak at 10 million  cubic meters (350 million cubic feet) in 2007.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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