Bush: Diplomacy first option on Iran

Iran Materials 10 May 2006 12:26 (UTC +04:00)

(Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Tuesday his administration viewed diplomacy as the first and most important option in dealing with the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

Bush spoke a day after Iran's president sent the U.S. president an 18-page letter, which Bush administration officials dismissed as a move by Tehran to divert attention from the nuclear issue, reports Trend.

The letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the first publicly announced personal communication from an Iranian president to his U.S. counterpart since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Bush, who was asked at a forum with older Americans what the United States would do if Iran obtained a nuclear bomb, did not mention the letter from Ahmadinejad.

However, he discussed the West's concerns about Iran's nuclear program and said Iran must not be allowed to get the bomb.

"The first option and the most important option is diplomacy," Bush said. "I believe we can accomplish this through diplomacy."

Iran insists it is enriching uranium -- and improving its techniques -- solely to produce electricity for domestic consumption, while the West argues the program is a cover for making nuclear weapons.

Foreign ministers from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany failed to agree on a common strategy to deal with Iran's nuclear program when they met in New York on Monday.