Bush and Ahmadinejad Don’t Meet, But Exchange Broadsides

UNITED NATIONS -- U.S. efforts to avert a close encounter between President George Bush and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations seem so far to have been successful, but that did not stop the two leaders from exchanging verbal broadsides from the podium of the General Assembly.

Predictably, both leaders used their respective speeches on the opening day of the 61st session of the world body to assert their contrary positions on Tehran's nuclear development program, which western governments increasingly believe the Iranians will use to develop nuclear weapons.

Addressing the Iranian people, the president said Iran's ruling ayatollahs "have chosen to deny you liberty" and to use the country's wealth to back terrorism and pursue nuclear weapons. The United States had "no objection" to Iran developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes, but Tehran should "abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions."

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