The United States President George W Bush has rejected new talks on Iraq with Iran or Syria and, in a direct challenge to Tehran, said Iranians" can do better" than President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"My message to the Iranian people is: you can do better than to have somebody try to rewrite history.
You can do better than somebody who hasn't strengthened your economy," Bush said in a year-end press conference, on Wednesday.
"And you can do better than having somebody who's trying to develop a nuclear weapon that the world believes you shouldn't have. There's a better way forward," said the US president.
Bush said Washington was "working hard" to get a UN Security Council resolution punishing Iran for refusing to halt sensitive nuclear work that the West charges feeds efforts to develop atomic weapons, and reiterated that Tehran must freeze such activities if it wants talks with the United States.
"We made perfectly clear to them what it takes to come to the table. And that is a suspension of their enrichment programme," said the president, who has come under heavy pressure to negotiate with Iran on the situation in Iraq.
The US accuses Tehran of feeding the violence there, saying it sees Iranian fingerprints on Shiite militias and the improvised explosive devices like roadside bombs that have killed many US soldiers.
But Washington has taken heart from Iranian elections for municipal councils and a powerful religious assembly that saw Ahmadinejad loyalists suffer setbacks at the hands of more moderate candidates in a number of key races.