Liberalism, democracy have failed: Iran Prez

In a letter to US President Bush, Ahmadinejad declared that democracy has failed worldwide.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 15:44 IST

Iran's president declared in a letter to US President George W Bush that democracy had failed worldwide and lamented "an ever increasing global hatred" of the US government.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice swiftly rejected it, saying it made no progress toward resolving questions about Tehran's suspect nuclear program.

"This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort," Rice said in an interview with the agency.

"It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way."

Rice's comments were the most detailed response from the United States to the letter, the first from an Iranian head of state to an American president since the 1979 hostage crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran.

The letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the first formal communication between leaders of the two nations in decades, made only an oblique reference to Iran's nuclear intentions.

It asked why "any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime."

Otherwise, it lambasted Bush for his handling of the Sept 11 attacks, accused the media of spreading lies about the Iraq war and railed against the United States for its support of Israel.

It questioned whether the world would be a different place if the money spent on Iraq had been spent to fight poverty.

"Would not your administration's political and economic standing have been stronger?" the letter said. "And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever increasing global hatred of the American government?"

Iran's top nuclear negotiator called the surprise letter a new "diplomatic opening" between the two countries, but Rice said it failed to resolve the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program -- the focus of intense UN Security Council debate this week.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush had been briefed on the letter, which the White House received Monday through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

"There's nothing in here that would suggest that we're on any different course than we were before we got the letter," Rice said.

Even though the letter hardly touched on nuclear issues, officials said it appeared timed with a push by the United States, Britain, France and Germany for a UN Security Council vote to restrain the Islamic regime's nuclear ambitions. Both China and Russia are opposed to leveling sanctions against Iran and the letter could provide them support.

Rice, who said she expected no quick action on sanctions, met privately for more than two hours Monday night on Iran with foreign ministers from the other permanent members of the Security Council.

Her spokesman gave no details of the substance of the discussions, but described the talks as strategic and not focused on specific steps.

The United States is concerned that Iran's program is a cover for making nuclear weapons, while Iran contends it has the right to process uranium as fuel in nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

In the letter, Ahmadinejad says that people around the world have lost faith in international institutions and questions whether the Bush administration has covered up some evidence surrounding the September 11 attacks.

"Liberalism and western style democracy have not been able to help realise the ideals of humanity," said the letter, obtained late on Monday by the agency.

"Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems."

The document makes no concrete proposals and does not suggest new talks. Instead, Ahmadinejad suggests that Bush should look inward, saying that history shows how "repressive and cruel governments do not survive."

First Published: May 09, 2006 14:10 IST