The White House reserved judgment Tuesday on Iran's response to a package of proposals to get Tehran to stop its disputed nuclear program.
"I'm not going to parse the Iranian government's document today here on the airplane,"White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said on Air Force One as President Bush flew to an appearance in Minnesota."That is a job best left to the diplomats."
Iran's negotiator, Ali Larijani, handed Tehran's response to ambassadors from Britain, China, Russia, France, Germany and Switzerland, Iran's state-run television said, without disclosing details.
Perino said that the U.S. government had received a copy of the document but that she didn't believe Bush had seen it yet.
"We are aware of the rhetoric that has been coming out of the regime about a nuclear program, and the president made very clear to everyone yesterday in his press conference that he thinks that that would be a mistake and dangerous for the region and the whole world,"Perino said.
"So let's let the diplomats take a look at this response before we parse it out too much here,"she said.
She noted that the U.N. Security Council had set an Aug. 31 deadline for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment or face possible economic and diplomatic sanctions.
Larijani was quoted by state-run television as saying Iran was ready for"serious negotiations"on its nuclear program. The semiofficial Fars news agency said Iran had rejected calls to suspend nuclear activities _ or uranium enrichment _ and"instead has offered a new formula to resolve the issues through dialogue."
In a separate development, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami is making plans to speak next month at the Washington National Cathedral.
He would be the most senior Iranian official to visit Washington since Islamic fundamentalists seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979 and held Americans there hostage for 444 days.
The Iranian Embassy in Washington closed in April 1980, and there have been no formal relations between the two countries since then.
A State Department official, who was not authorized to be identified by name, said applications for visas had been received from Khatami and several Iranians who would travel with him.
The applications are under review, the official said.
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