Iran's Leader Seeks Ties With N. Korea

The Associated Press
Sunday, November 19, 2006; 3:35 AM

TEHRAN, Iran -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has demanded more ties with North Korea and urged for nuclear disarmament in Korean peninsula, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Sunday.

"Regarding capabilities and interests of both countries, economic relations between Tehran and Pyongyang should be expanded," the agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a meeting with North Korean parliament Speaker Choe Thae Bok. The two met on Saturday.

Ahmadinejad also said Iran desires nuclear disarmament in the world, including on the Korean peninsula, IRNA said.

The North Korean official was in Tehran for a gathering of the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace.

"Some powers are pursuing their arrogant interests though creating conflict and tension among nations," Ahmadinejad said. "Progress in the world needs peace, brotherhood, dialogue and tranquility."

In the meeting, Choe said that his country would strongly try to promote mutual ties and cooperation between the two countries, IRNA reported.

Both countries are locked in diplomatic standoffs with the West over their nuclear programs. The United Nations imposed sanctions on North Korea after it tested a nuclear device last month.

The U.S. and Europe are pressing for tough sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment. The U.S. believes the enrichment is part of a secret drive to develop weapons, but Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

Iran has shrugged off threats of sanctions, insisting that the West eventually will have to agree to negotiate with it over its contentious nuclear program. Russia, which has close trade relations with Iran, has opposed tough sanctions and has called for negotiations instead of punishment.

President Bush declared Iran and North Korea _ along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq _ as members of an "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address.


© 2006 The Associated Press