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Bush On Democracy For Iran

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., President George W. Bush said that the Iranian people deserve a democratic government:

"I believe the Iranian people ought to be allowed to freely discuss opinions, read a free press, have free votes, be able to choose amongst political parties. I believe Iran should adopt democracy; that's what I believe."

Referring to the Iranian clerical regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons, Mr. Bush said that diplomacy should be given a chance to work. "It takes a while," he said, "for things to happen in the world."

"There's a certain patience required in order to achieve a diplomatic objective. And our diplomatic objective is to continue working with our friends to make it clear to Iran we speak with a single voice."

Since December, the European Union has been trying to persuade Iran to stop all uranium-enrichment activity in exchange for economic benefits. Enriched uranium is a key component in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Mr. Bush thanked the Europeans for trying to convince Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons:

"I was so pleased to be able to participate with our friends, France and Great Britain and Germany, to say to the Iranians, 'We speak with a common voice, and we share suspicions because of your past behavior. And the best way to ensure that you do not develop a nuclear weapon is for you to haveā€¦no highly enriched uranium program or plutonium program that could lead to a weapon.'"

Mr. Bush said that countries are suspicious of Iran because of its history of concealing its nuclear program and because Iran is "a non-transparent regime. . . .run by a handful of people." He said that if the rulers in Tehran reject the offer made by the European Union, "the understanding is that we go to the [United Nations] Security Council." "I hope they don't [reject it]," said President Bush. "I hope they realize the world is clear about making sure that they don't end up with a nuclear weapon."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.