White House rejects Bush-Admadinejad debate idea

The White House today dismissed the idea of a televised debate between US President George Bush and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, describing the proposal as a diversion.

Spokeswoman Dana Perino said, “I’d refer you back to what the president, Secretary Rice, and others have said about the Iranian regime knowing what it has to do to engage constructively with international community,” Perino said.

“We’ve said we are willing to talk to Iran in the context of positive response to the P5+1 package,” she said referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – and Germany.

“Talk of a debate is just a diversion from the legitimate concerns that the international community, not just the US, has about Iran’s behaviour, from support for terrorism to pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”

Perino said: “Iran may want to look first to allowing free expression and open debate within its borders, as opposed to the current practice of crushing dissent.” Ahmadinejad proposed the debate with Bush on world issues at a news conference in Tehran.

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