Bush urges peaceful end to Iran nuclear crisis

( AFP ) - US President George W. Bush said Thursday that he hoped Iran would bow to mounting global pressure over its atomic program but warned he was "not going to tolerate" a nuclear-armed Tehran.

In a wide-ranging press conference, Bush refused to comment on an Israeli raid inside Syria and declined to confirm reports that North Korea gave nuclear know-how to Damascus, while sternly warning Pyongyang against any such efforts.

The president, in his first public comment on the Blackwater shooting in Iraq, said he was "saddened" because "evidently some innocent lives were lost" and that he would discuss the issue with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

Bush also signaled he would raise sluggish Iraqi progress towards national reconciliation, saying "I'm not going to give them a pass," while admitting that key political and security goals will not be met as quickly as hoped.

"Having not achieved them doesn't mean we ought to quit," said Bush, who promised that building democracy in Iraq would dishearten extremists like those who killed an anti-Syrian lawmaker in Beirut on Wednesday.

"Now, I don't know who did that. But I do know it is typical of this war we're fighting in when extremists kill innocent people in order to undermine democracies," Bush said one day after tying Iran and Syria to violence there.

Looking to the 2008 US elections, the unpopular president promised skittish fellow Republicans he would be a "strong asset," and turned aside worries about a possible recession by insisting he was "optimistic" about the US economy despite "unsettling times" in the US housing market amid soaring foreclosures.

After weeks of escalating US rhetoric on Iran and a stark French warning to prepare for a possible war, Bush insisted that "the objective, of course, is to solve this peacefully."

"I am hopeful that we can convince the Iranian regime to give up any ambitions it has in developing a weapons program, and do so peacefully. That ought to be the objective of any diplomacy," he said.

"It's imperative that we continue to work in a multilateral fashion to send that message. And one place to do so is at the United Nations," Bush said, one day before French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was due at the White House.

The five UN Security Council permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany were due to debate new steps against Iran Friday.

The Security Council has adopted three resolutions against Iran. Two include sanctions because of Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which it says is purely for civilian energy purposes.

Bush, who was expected to avoid any contact with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN, also pursued their long-distance feud by saying he agreed with New York's decision not to green-light Ahmadinejad's request to visit the "Ground Zero" site where the World Trade Center once stood.

"I can understand why they would not want somebody that's running a country who's a state sponsor of terror down there at the site," said Bush, who vowed a global war on terrorism after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The president tersely refused to comment on alleged North Korean nuclear help for Syria, but warned Pyongyang that any such activities would break an aid-for-denuclearization pact reached under six-country negotiations.

"To the extent that they are proliferating, we expect them to stop their proliferation if they want the six-party talks to be successful," he said, calling that "equally important" to giving up nuclear weapons programs.

Bush said last week he was adopting recommendations by his Iraq commander, General David Petraeus, to cut force levels after security advances notably in Anbar province, where Sunni leaders have joined the fight against Al-Qaeda.

The reductions would take the US presence down to about 130,000 by mid-2008, roughly their number before Bush ordered a military "surge" in January, and well shy of levers sought by his Democratic foes and the war-weary US public.

"I have said that progress will yield fewer troops. In other words, return on success is what I said," said the president, who also attacked Democrats for not repudiating a "disgusting" political advertisement assailing Petraeus.

"That leads me to come to this conclusion: That most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group ... than they are of irritating the United States military," he said.

Azerbaijan reports 172 more COVID-19 recoveries
Azerbaijan reports 172 more COVID-19 recoveries
Researcher talks monuments on ancient Azerbaijani lands vandalized by Armenians (PHOTO)
Researcher talks monuments on ancient Azerbaijani lands vandalized by Armenians (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan imposes restrictions on import of poultry meat from Estonian county
Azerbaijan imposes restrictions on import of poultry meat from Estonian county
Loading Bars
Latest
China's factory activity expands at a slower pace in February, misses expectations
Turkey set to support Croatia's post-quake revival: Turkish FM
COVID-19 Update: 83,179 Kyrgyzstanis recovered
Georgia reports 248 coronavirus cases, 525 recoveries, 11 deaths
Iran's Gorgan-Mashhad railway to be built
Trade relations between Azerbaijan and Russian Ulyanovsk region expanding
Weekly review of Azerbaijani ICT sector highlights
UK's Sunak will set out plans to raise income tax by 6 billion sterling
Australia receives AstraZeneca vials as it ramps up vaccination drive
January 2021 value of mortgage loans in Azerbaijan grows in absolute terms
Kazakhstan adds 791 new COVID-19 cases
5.5-magnitude quake hits 81 km SW of Islay (Matarani), Peru
Iranian Minister unveils ports' infrastructure dev't plans
Turkey confirms 9,193 new COVID-19 cases, 2,693,164 in total
S&P Global affirms Georgia’s sovereign credit rating at ‘BB’
Razi COVID-19 vaccine to begin clinical trial: Minister
5 died after accident in northeast China chemical fiber plant
US regulator approves Johnson&Johnson coronavirus vaccine
Kazakhstan twofold decreases exports to Norway amid COVID-19
Iraq reports 3,543 new COVID-19 cases, 692,241 in total
5.3-magnitude quake hits 3 km SW of Point MacKenzie, Alaska
Qatar reports 460 new COVID-19 cases, 163,197 in total
Weekly review of highlights in Azerbaijani financial market
UK records another 7,434 coronavirus cases, 290 deaths
It is necessary to end deployment of Armenian armed forces on territory of Azerbaijan - Foreign Ministry
WHO reports over 420,000 new daily cases of COVID-19
Istanbul’s major Galataport project to go live in April
0.03% of pupils and 0.1% of school staff in Georgia confirmed with Covid-19 this week
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on February 28
Uzbekistan's largest share in formation of GDP falls on Tashkent
Azerbaijan's revenues from tea, coffee exports double in Jan.2021
Cargo movements in Iran's Khalij-e-Fars port increase
China conditionally approves one-shot recombinant COVID-19 vaccine
Stock gains power Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway to higher profit
More than 165,000 apply for Turkey’s most popular scholarship
Georgian Railway resumes passenger transfers
Kazakhstan reports value increase in all types of deposits
New road put into operation in Iran's Golestan Province
Azerbaijan sets up working subgroups to prepare 2021-2025 Development Strategy
Bahar Azadi gold coin price falling in Iran
Azerbaijan reports 172 more COVID-19 recoveries
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Finance to put up medium-term bonds for auction
Azerbaijan's banking sector ends January 2021 with profit
Foundation of several manufacturing enterprises laid in Iran's Qazvin Province
Uzbek-Korean JV to buy spare parts for metal detector via tender
USAID to promote start-up dev’t in Turkmenistan
President Aliyev: Any attempt to violate implementation of November 10th declaration will be very harmful for Armenia (VIDEO)
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for February 27
Bosnian TV channel visits liberated Azerbaijani Aghdam, reminds of Khojaly genocide
Azerbaijani police officers find ordnances left by Armenians in Khojavand (PHOTO)
Long-term energy demand impact of COVID-19 is modest
President Aliyev to Iranian reporter: Your question is a kind of an accusation (VIDEO)
New Zealand's largest city Auckland back to lockdown after COVID-19 case
Iran pins hopes on Swiss financial channel to purchase COVID-19 vaccines
Foreign journalists visit village where two-year-old Azerbaijani girl was killed by Armenians
Volume of cargo loaded, unloaded in Iran’s Chabahar port revealed
Weekly review of Azerbaijan's oil and gas sector
Eni Turkmenistan Ltd opens tender for catering, housekeeping services
Kazakhstan boosts imports of Switzerland-made products
Uzbek ministry, German Society for International Cooperation sign agreement
Uzbekistan, China expand mutual trade despite COVID-19
Georgia reports 373 new cases of coronavirus on Feb.27
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange soar
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Baku Metro continues preparatory work for commissioning of new 'November' 8 station
Iran's exports to Russia increase
Uzbek-Korean JV to buy spare parts for pumps via tender
Kazakh airlines eye to launch several flights on Turkestan-Istanbul route
UNDP in Turkmenistan opens tender for services on seismic work
Volume of electricity generated by renewable energy power plants in Iran announced
Researcher talks monuments on ancient Azerbaijani lands vandalized by Armenians (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan reveals COVID-19 data for Feb. 27
Azerbaijan's MoD shares footage from Gubadly's Afandilar village (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Iranian currency rates for February 27
Remittances from Azerbaijan to Georgia show highest growth rate
Belarus considering possibility of supplying agricultural machinery to Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan’s Turkmenbashi Oil Refinery exceeds plan for kerosene production
Azerbaijani oil prices published
Kazakhstan's uranium mining company opens tender to acquire electro-technical materials
Issuance of construction permissions in Georgia down
Philippines extends partial coronavirus curbs in capital until end-March
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Kazakh gas supply company to attract equipment installation services via tender
Turkey's tourism industry puts hopes on safety measures for new season
Azerbaijani marketing platform plans to become regional player
Argentine health minister tests positive for COVID-19
Czech gov't declares new state of emergency over coronavirus
U.S. FDA advisors recommend approving Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use
Increase in malware attacks makes cybersecurity more relevant than ever - Kaspersky Lab in Azerbaijan
South Korea vaccinates 18,000 to start ambitious COVID-19 campaign
US may announce new sanctions on Russia within weeks - White House press secretary
Founder of Indian Jet Airways eyes opening airline in Uzbekistan’s Namangan region
Saudi Arabia rejects U.S. intelligence report on Khashoggi's killing: statement
Israel registers 2,738 new COVID-19 cases, 769,971 in total
U.S. announces 'Khashoggi ban' for 76 Saudi individuals
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 427,000 in past day
Slovenia confirms first case of coronavirus variant identified in S. Africa
UN Security Council adopts resolution on vaccination
UK records another 8,523 coronavirus cases, 345 deaths
Kazakhstan shows interest in supplies of Belarusian sugar, its manufacturing technology
All news