TEHRAN, Aug. 31 -- With weeks to go until a U.S. deadline for opening talks, a spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that he plans to travel to New York to give a speech during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23. The announcement came as international pressure continued to build for sanctions unless Iran is willing to negotiate over its nuclear program.
The visit will roughly coincide with a Sept. 15 deadline set by the White House for Iran to respond to an offer to open talks on the nuclear issue. It will be Ahmadinejad's first visit to a Western country since the country's June election, which was officially declared a landslide in his favor but which the opposition contends was stolen. The vote led to weeks of demonstrations, with dozens of protesters dying after security forces violently cracked down. President Obama condemned the violence but stopped short of siding with opposition demands that the election be annulled.
In Berlin on Monday, German and French leaders emphasized that Iran must respond to international concerns about its nuclear program soon or face the consequences.
"Initiatives must be taken during the month of September which take account of Iran's will or otherwise to cooperate," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. If it does not, he said, "Germany and France will be united in calling for a st... >>>
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