Washington, D.C., February 12, 2008 - In an exclusive interview yesterday, Ambassador Nicholas Burns, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, spoke to Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) about Iranian government assistance to the Shia militants in Iraq.
When asked about the fourth round of negotiations to be held next week in Baghdad he commented, "We've been disappointed that the Iranian government has not diminished and stopped altogether its support, through material and arms, for the Shia militants in Iraq and especially the explosive technologies that have been very destructive to human life, including those of American soldiers and Iraqi soldiers."
Regarding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stance toward Israel, Ambassador Burns commented that "It's extraordinary that in this day and age in the year 2008 that the president of an important country in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad, would resort to such irresponsible and vicious public statements about another country." He added that of the 192 member countries of the United Nations, Iran is the only country that does not recognize Israel's right to exist.
On the topic of Iran's nuclear ambitions, Ambassador Burns addressed the ongoing difficulty in bringing Iran to the negotiating table saying, "It is the Iranian government that has rejected the possibility of negotiations," adding that "the U.S. wants to achieve a diplomatic solution to the problems caused by Iran."
The ambassador concluded the interview by saying the U.S. hopes "Iran can find its way to peace and find its way to democracy and a democratic government." The entire interview will be available later today on PNN's website at www.VOANews.com/Persian.
VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four adult Iranians tuning into a VOA show at least once a week.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,250 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
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