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Iran Pursues New Paths To Avoid Nuclear Isolation

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad during a visit to Natanz nuclear facility on February 16, 2006 (Fars) May 9, 2006 -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said today that a letter he has sent to U.S. President George W. Bush reflects the views of the Iranian people, as Iranian officials sought to highlight potential differences on the UN Security Council over Iran's nuclear activities.

"The points that we mentioned [in the letter] are really the points that our nation would like to make," Ahmadinejad told a news conference ahead of his departure for an official visit to Indonesia. "It is what is in the heart of the Iranian nation. It is their point of view -- their opinions and beliefs. And it is the way the Iranian nation views the world's problems and how to resolve the problems that humanity is suffering from."

Ahmadinejad's letter -- which has not been made public -- reportedly condemns Western-style liberalism and democracy as failures. AP, which has seen a copy of the letter, says it also condemns U.S. support for Israel and criticizes the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

It is said to make little mention of the controversy over Tehran's nuclear program, which the U.S. and allies claim is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has dismissed Ahmadinejad's letter, saying there is nothing new in it. The UN Security Council is currently considering possible responses to what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has described as Iran's failure to comply with its international nuclear obligations.

It is believed to be the first formal communication between leaders of the two countries since the Iranian Revolution ousted the shah in 1979.

...As Larijani Plays Up Security Council Differences

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said today that a proposal to allow Tehran to enrich uranium on Russian soil remains a possible way out of its nuclear dispute.

But Larijani said Iran needs more time to work out details.

Larijani made the remarks today after Russia and China on May 8 refused to support a UN Security Council draft resolution authorizing possible sanctions against Tehran.

"Some countries -- such as Russia and China -- have more realistic positions [than others]," Larijani said. "Our advice to other countries of Europe is not to follow the policy of one country that will create headaches in the region. We think the European Union has the potential to resolve this issue."

(compiled from agency reports)

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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