Iran president sends letter to Bush

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The Independent Online

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written to George W Bush proposing "new solutions" to their differences in the first letter from an Iranian leader to an American president in 27 years, government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said today.

The letter was sent via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran which has a US interests section, Elham told a press conference.

In the letter, Ahmadinejad proposes "new solutions for getting out of international problems and the current fragile situation of the world," Elham said.

Elham did not mention the nuclear dispute - the major issue on which Washington and Tehran are at loggerheads. The United States is leading Western efforts to have the UN Security Council censure Iran for refusing to cease enrichment of uranium.

It is the first time that an Iranian president has written to his US counterpart since 1979, when the two countries broke relations after Iranian militants stormed the US Embassy and held the occupants hostage for more than a year.

On Sunday, Ahmadinejad renewed Iran's threat to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if the UN Security Council imposes sanctions over its nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad told the official Islamic Republic News Agency that Washington and its allies "don't give us anything and yet they want to impose sanctions on us." He called the threat of sanctions "meaningless."

The United States is backing attempts by Britain and France to win Security Council approval for a UN resolution that would threaten possible further measures if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment - a process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity or material for atomic warheads.

The Western nations want to invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter that would allow economic sanctions or military action, if necessary, to force Iran to comply with the Security Council's demand that it cease enrichment.

But Russia and China, the other two veto-holding members of the Security Council, oppose such moves.

Iran claims its nuclear program is strictly for the generation of electricity and that it requires enrichment to be self-reliant in fuel for nuclear reactors.

But the United States and France believe that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons - a charge Iran denies.