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Iran...s President Writes to Bush About Nuclear Program Crisis

By Steven R. Weisman


In a diplomatic overture that was immediately dismissed by the United States, President Ahmad Ahmadinejad of Iran sent a lengthy letter to President Bush over the weekend offering what an Iranian spokesman called “new ways” to resolve the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program.

The letter, described in Tehran as the first direct communication from an Iranian leader to an American president since 1979, was said by the spokesman to analyze “the roots of the problems” with the West. But American officials said it was a meandering screed that proposed no solutions to the nuclear issue.

“This letter isn’t it,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York. “This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort. It isn’t addressing the issues that we’re dealing with in a concrete way.”

American officials said the letter, which was not released, was 16 pages in Persian and 18 pages in an English translation that Iran provided. The officials said the letter offered a philosophical, historical and religious analysis of Iran’s relationship to the West, and asked questions about the cost to the world of the establishment of Israel, while another section asserted that Western-style democracy had failed humanity.

Some American officials said the letter appeared to be aimed at disrupting talks on Iran among top envoys of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, suggested Iran was throwing “sand in the eyes” of diplomats.

The officials were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the letter.

Rice met Monday with her counterparts from five countries at a dinner to discuss Iran, but the indications were that the United States and the Europeans remained at odds with Russia and China.

She is to address the Security Council on Tuesday on American recommendations to implement the accord to end the war in Sudan.

Another urgent matter on her agenda was the Middle East, where there appeared to be a growing difference of view between the Bush administration and some European allies.