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Ahmadinejad offers to have direct talks with US president Bush

Tehran is at odds with Washington over its disputed nuclear programme.

world Updated: Apr 25, 2007 12:04 IST

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proposed holding talks with US President George W Bush - a surprise suggestion from the hardline leader whose country is at odds with Washington over its disputed nuclear programme and involvement in Iraq, Iran's state-run Arabic satellite TV channel reported.

"Last year, I announced readiness for a televised debate over global issues with his excellency Bush. And now we announce that I am ready to negotiate with him about bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on the website of Al-Alam.

The Iranian leader did not elaborate on what specifically he wanted to talk to Bush about, but he said the talks "should be held with media present".

It was not immediately clear if Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters, supports Ahmadinejad's proposal.

Khamenei has regularly rejected any direct talks between Tehran and Washington because of what he calls the US "bullying" policy towards Iran. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since the 1979 storming of the US Embassy in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad's offer was not the first overture he has made to Bush. Last year, Ahmadinejad proposed holding a televised debate with the American president, but the White House called the offer "a diversion from the legitimate concerns" about Iran's nuclear programme.

Also last year, Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to the US president that Washington dismissed as irrelevant because it also did not address the issue of Iran's nuclear programme.

First Published: Apr 24, 2007 11:48 IST