“We are ready to sit down with Mr .Obama face-to-face, and put the global issues on the table, man-to-man, freely, and in front of the media and see whose solutions are better,” Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday.
His country has been the target of a series of U.N. sanctions, most recently in June, because of concerns about its nuclear program. The United States has been a leading advocate of sanctions, and, since the 2002 “Axis of Evil” speech, has adopted a particularly aggressive stance toward the Middle Eastern nation. This weekend, Michael Mullen – Chairmain of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – said that, with regard to Iran, “military actions have been on the table and remain on the table” and that the U.S. has a war plan prepared. The option for violence has been publicly admitted before, going back at least to 2005.
Asked about Ahmadinejad’s offer for a public dialogue, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: “We have always said that we would be willing to sit down and discuss Iran’s illicit nuclear program if Iran is serious about doing that. To date, that seriousness has not been there.”
The Iranian president made a similar offer to Obama last year and to President Bush in 2006, both of which were rejected. Diplomatic ties between the two countries have been severed since 1980, following the hostage crisis.