UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Sunday afternoon following a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Iranian leader had expressed willingness to cooperate with the international community to reach a solution to the escalating crisis around Iran's nuclear enrichment program. However, Annan stressed, Iran remained steadfast in its refusal to cease enrichment ahead of talks.
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"On the nuclear issue, the president reaffirmed to me Iran's preparedness and commitment to hold negotiations with Western powers to find a solution to the impasse over Teheran's nuclear activities," Annan told a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki.
However, Ahmadinejad "reiterated that he did not accept suspension before negotiations," the UN chief said conveying Iran's rejection of a condition set by the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.
Ahmadinejad did not attend the press conference or give any statements. On Saturday - the first day of Annan's visit - he reiterated that Teheran would continue its nuclear activities.
Iran appeared more responsive to UN concerns regarding Lebanon. Ahmadinejad "reaffirmed his country's support for the implementation of resolution 1701," Annan said of his discussions about the UN resolution on Lebanon that includes measures to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah.
But the UN chief did not disclose the specifics of his talks on the topic with the Iranian president. Mottaki after meeting Annan Saturday made a vague promise to support the resolution, but did not directly mention Hizbullah.
Annan also reiterated his displeasure over an exhibition in Teheran of cartoons on the Holocaust drawing attention to the outrage among Muslims caused by the publication earlier this year of the Danish cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
Those comments came just hours after Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Iran plans to hold a conference this fall questioning the extent of the Holocaust.
Annan's meeting with the Iranian president came on the final day of his two-day visit to Iranian capital on a tour that has included stops in Lebanon, Israel and Syria. He is slated to make stops in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.