Bush pressured to hold Iranian dialogue

May 11, 2006 at 10:15 AM

WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Mounting criticism at home and abroad is trying to convince the Bush administration to join direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program, reports say.

Some Republican and Democratic moderates in Congress have questioned the White House's stance in recent sharply worded commentaries. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and five former European Union foreign ministers say Iranian officials report widespread interest in talks with Washington.

Interest appears to have been fanned by an unusual 18-page letter to U.S. President George W. Bush from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Washington Post said Thursday.

The administration dismissed the letter as not a serious diplomatic overture, suggesting it contained nothing to solve the nuclear stalemate. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice termed the letter "a kind of philosophical and indeed religious attack on U.S. policies."

Albright, however, said it should be viewed as a chance to talk and influence world opinion. "In diplomacy" she said, "you make your opportunities."

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