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Iran's President arrives in Indonesia amid N-row LONDON (UK) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Jakarta early Wednesday for a visit during which he may ask Indonesia to play a mediating role with Western nations over his country's contested nuclear program, AFP reported. Ahmadinejad was greeted amid tight security by Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda and about two dozen Indonesian and Iranian officials.

Wearing a light brown jacket and looking relaxed, he waved to reporters but made no comment before leaving for his south Jakarta hotel. Wirayuda, asked if Iran's nuclear program would be raised in bilateral talks, said: "Certainly it will be discussed, it's an important issue."

The Iranian president's arrival in the world's most populous Muslim country came as the White House said there would be no formal written response to a surprise letter Ahmadinejad wrote to President George W. Bush Monday, in which he criticised US policy in the Middle East. Bush said that diplomacy remained the number one option in the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, telling reporters in Florida: "In the short term ... we'll keep diplomacy going, knitted up with as many nations as possible."

He highlighted a meeting in New York Monday of the major powers to try to find a strategy to force Iran to give up uranium enrichment. The meeting of the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France and Germany produced no agreement, however. That meeting came hours after Ahmadinejad wrote to Bush, breaking a quarter century of official silence between the top levels of government in Washington and Tehran.

In the 18-page letter, Ahmadinejad touched on the nuclear crisis, but gave no sign that Iran would adhere to UN demands to freeze uranium enrichment work which is at the heart of fears that Tehran is using an atomic energy drive as a mask for weapons development. Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Desra Percaya said Indonesia could "play the role of a middleman" between Iran and its Western opponents.

During his five-day visit, Ahmadinejad is expected to sign agreements on energy cooperation and tourism, and to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He is also due to give a speech at the University of Indonesia, hold talks with students at the Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic University and meet the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce. His plans include attending Friday prayers at Jakarta's Istiqlal mosque after meeting Islamic leaders, and then flying to Bali to attend a meeting of the Developing-8 (D-8) group of large Muslim countries which opens Friday.



Posted in Politics @ 10 May 2006 07:14 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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