Condoleezza Rice admits she responded to Iran letter before US had translated missive
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Tuesday May 9, 2006
From an interview with the NBC editorial board as released by the State Department. (Just off wires, can't find link yet). Rice also admitted she hadn't read the letter in an interview with the Associated Press editorial board.
Q I would love to know more about this letter from Ahmadinejad and what you think he is doing in trying to approach the White House so publicly at this time, and as a second issue, what you think the relationship is between him and the Ayatollah and the other clerics.
SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, I won't try to judge the motivations for the letter and I certainly don't know the ins and outs of internal Iranian politics. We choose to treat the Iranian Government as the Iranian Government and to respond accordingly.
We've gotten the letter. We've not had a chance to do our own translation and of course we'll do that, but an initial reading of the letter would suggest that there is nothing in it that addresses the major issues between the United States and the rest of the world and Iran on the other hand. So not concrete issues on the nuclear side or on any of the other issues that we face. It's very philosophical, I would say. But again, I think we want to take a harder look at it, look at the actual translation and get a better sense of what's there. But that's the initial reading.
Q Well, could I just follow up asking we believe we've read that Angela Merkel and other leaders think that it's time for talks between the U.S. and Iran. Where do you stand on that now?
SEC. RICE: I think what it's time for is for Iran to recognize that the international community is on one side of this divide and that Iran is on the other side of the divide. We have a presidential statement in the Security Council. We've had Board of Governors resolutions. We're talking again in the Security Council about the world's just demands that Iran return to the negotiations having suspended its enrichment activities. And so that's really what needs to happen. I don't think there's an absence of communication. That's not the problem. The issue is: Is Iran prepared to actually take the step that it needs to take? And we haven't had any indication that they're prepared to do that.