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Rice Requests Asian Support for Sanctions Against Iran

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday called on Russia, China and India to support threatening Iran with sanctions for refusing to halt its nuclear program.

"Iran needs to get a message from the international community that is a unified message," Rice said at a news conference.

The message, she said, is that it is not acceptable for Iran to enter into negotiations on living up to its international obligations and then walk out on the talks with the Europeans.

"We will be working with our colleagues on this," Rice said, declarsion of the U.N. General Assembly, Rice said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was granted a visa to attend even though he was ineligible because of terrorist ties.

"I don't know if I will have a chance to bump into him," Rice said with a smile. "But you know, I am a pleasant person. I suppose I would say, 'Hello."'

Referring to ongoing U.S. suspicions that he played a role in Iranian radicals' takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, Rice gave no indication she was willing to have serious talks with the Iranian leader.

On another subject, Rice called for sweeping reform of the United Nations, including its management, though she said she expected to continue to work with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"The United States is the largest single donor to the United Nations and we owe the American taxpayers an accounting for the fact their tax dollars are being used well," she said.

"The United Nations must be fully accountable, transparent and efficient, with a work force based on high standards of integrity and accountability," she said.

While in New York, Rice plans to meet with European, Russian and U.N. partners who helped produce a blueprint, or roadmap, designed to promote negotiations on an overall accord between Israel and the Palestinians.

She said they would try to use the success of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza as momentum for more action by the two sides on the roadmap, which she called a reliable guide to setting up a Palestinian state.

In the Middle East, the Bush administration is trying to counter anti-U.S. views.

Karen Hughes, longtime adviser to President Bush, was sworn in Friday as the State Department's new head of public diplomacy. She will concentrate on improving the United States' image in the Middle East and countering what Bush called terrorists' lies about America.

"I've asked the State Department to improve our government's capabilities to confront terrorist propaganda quickly before myths have time to take root in the hearts and minds of people across the world," Bush said at the State Department.

"Karen and her team have a vital task," Bush said. "They must ensure that the terrorists' lies are challenged aggressively and that our government is prepared to respond to false accusations and propaganda immediately."

Hughes will make her first trip to the Middle East in her new job at the end of September.