Washington, D.C., March 20, 2008 – President George Bush expressed his support for both Iranian reformers and a civilian nuclear-energy program for Iran powered by reactor fuel from Russia.
In an exclusive interview with the Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) that was broadcast by satellite Thursday to Iran, the president said, "My thought is that the reformers inside Iran are brave people, they've got no better friend than George W. Bush, and I ask for God's blessings on them on their very important work. And secondly, that I would do nothing to undermine their efforts."
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During his interview with VOA’s PNN reporter Setareh Derakhsheh, President Bush discussed allowing Iran to proceed with non-military nuclear energy research while calling on them to suspend the enrichment of uranium. “I believe in civilian nuclear power. Iran is a sovereign country and they should have it. The problem is we just don’t trust the government because they haven’t been forthcoming about their enrichment of fuels to go into the reactor. Therefore Russia’s offer to provide fuel on a contractual basis, and provide fuel on a consistent basis, would help solve the problem.”
President Bush expressed concern for the economic problems faced by the Iranian people but took note that the difficulties were a result of mismanagement by the government and isolation from the world community based on the country’s foreign policy.
While speaking to VOA, President Bush delivered a special message to mark the start of Nooroz, the Iranian new year, celebrations saying, “The people of the United States respect the people of Iran. We respect the traditions of Iran, the great history of Iran. We have differences with the government but we honor the people.”
The interview aired in full today on VOA’s PNN nightly newscast, News & Views. Each day, VOA broadcasts seven hours of Persian-language TV programs, reaching one in five adults in Iran. Radio and television news stories highlighting the interview are also featured on VOA’s worldwide English network and other broadcast languages. They are available on the Web at http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-03-20-voa3.cfm and http://www.voanews.com/persian.
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.