AFP: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday proposed holding a public debate with his US counterpart George W. Bush at the United Nations this month and a “global referendum” to decide who was right. TEHRAN (AFP) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday proposed holding a public debate with his US counterpart George W. Bush at the United Nations this month and a “global referendum” to decide who was right.
Ahmadinejad confirmed in an interview with Iranian television he would be visiting Iran’s arch enemy the United States for the third time to take part in the General Assembly next week.
“I proposed it last year. I will go to New York. Let’s sit down and talk. But not behind closed doors.
“I propose discussing international questions at the UN General Assembly in order to solve them,” he added.
“Our aim is to solve global problems,” he continued. “He (Bush) gives his position and I give mine. The representatives of 200 countries meet there and they can judge,” he said.
Ahmadinejad offered Bush a public debate before he travelled to the United Nations last year, a proposal that was spurned by the White House which said the suggestion was not serious.
In the interview with Iran’s international Jam-e Jam Farsi language channel, Ahmadinejad also went one step further by mooting a “global referendum” to see who out of Iran and the United States had the better ideas.
“We will propose our solutions to solve the world questions and they (the Americans) can propose their solutions. We will organise a global referendum and the people can vote,” he said.
“The solution that wins the most votes will be applied.”
Ahmadinejad’s offers come at a moment of increasing tension between Iran and the United States, which accuses the Islamic republic of seeking nuclear weapons.
The United States has never ruled out using military strikes to punish Iran for its defiance and Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that “all options are on the table.”
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also said in a television interview Sunday: “We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.”
Iran vehemently denies the allegations it is seeking an atomic weapon, saying its nuclear drive is aimed at providing electricity for a growing population whose fossil fuels will one day run out.
Washington is also at loggerheads with Iran over its role in Iraq, accusing Tehran of shipping bombs for attacks on US troops and aiding Shiite militias, allegations vehemently denied by the Islamic republic.
Despite his enthusiasm for a public debate with Bush, Ahmadinejad nonetheless ruled out the possibility of bilateral negotiations with the United States.
“This does not mean we want to negotiate with the United States. They want to say that Iran is under pressure and needs the United States. But it’s not like that. We do not need anyone.”
Ties between Washington and Tehran have remained frozen since the United States severed relations during the siege of its embassy in Tehran by Islamist students in 1980.