U.S. President George Bush and his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, say they are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports the two leaders met Wednesday at the historic home of America's first president, George Washington.
Both men say Iran was a major part of their talks at Mount Vernon. President Bush thanked the French leader for his determination to settle the nuclear dispute peacefully.
"The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous," said President Bush. "And therefore now is the time for us to work together to diplomatically solve this problem."
Iran says it is not secretly developing nuclear weapons. The government in Tehran says it is enriching uranium solely for the peaceful civilian purpose of generating electricity.
While Russia and China are resisting tougher UN sanctions, France is with the United States and Britain in calling for harsher Security Council action against Iran.
President Sarkozy says more punitive actions must go together with what he calls "the outstretched hand of dialogue" because he says Iran deserves better than isolation.
"It is unacceptable that Iran should have at any point a nuclear weapon, but Iran is entitled to the energy of the future which is civilian nuclear energy," said President Sarkozy. "I believe in the effectiveness of sanctions. I believe even in the need to toughen the sanctions."
President Sarkozy says dialogue with Tehran must be kept open to avoid what he calls "the worst case scenario."
Finding a diplomatic solution to the standoff will also be a major topic of the American leader's Friday and Saturday meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In a Tuesday interview with German television, Mr. Bush said if Iran wants to see World War III, a way to do it is to attack Israel with nuclear weapons.
At Mount Vernon Wednesday, the president says he still hopes to find a peaceful resolution.
"I believe it is important for us to send clear signals to the Iranian government that the free world understands the risks of you trying to end up with a nuclear weapon," said Mr. Bush. "And therefore we will work together to try to find if there is not rational people inside your government who are tired of isolation and who believe there is a better way forward."
Iranian President Mahmound Ahmadinejad Wednesday said his country has reached a key nuclear target of operating three thousand centrifuges. Nuclear experts say 3,000 centrifuges operating in ideal conditions could enrich enough uranium to make an atomic bomb in about a year.
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