Ahmadinejad at UN 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
President Bush warned Wednesday of a nuclear-armed Iran but did not rule out that the United States would negotiate with its provocative leader if he gives up his suspected nuclear weapons ambitions.
He denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his remarks about destroying Israel.
"In Iran, we're dealing with a country where the leader has said that he wants to destroy Israel," Bush said. "My belief is that the United States will defend our ally Israel. This is a leader who has made very provocative statements. And, we have made it clear, however, that in spite of that, we are willing to sit down with him, so long as he suspends his program."
"In other words, it's his choice, it's not mine anymore. So I believe that's the best way to achieve an objective," the president added.
"If your question is, will you ever sit down with them? We've proven we would with North Korea. And the answer is yeah, just so long as we can achieve something, so long as we are able to get our objective."
Bush also said it's important for the United States to stay engaged in neighboring Iraq to convince the Iranians that the US is committed to democratic reform in the region. "There would be nothing worse for world peace than if the Iranians believed that the United States did not have the will and commitment to help young democracies survive," Bush told businessmen and women where he took questions after a talk on government spending.
"If we left before the job was done, there would be chaos," Bush said about withdrawing US troops prematurely from Iraq. "Chaos would embolden not only the extremists and radicals that would like to do us harm, but it would also embolden Iran. What you don't want is to have a nuclear arms race taking place in the Middle East."