By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
After the controversial appearance of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University last week, an Iranian university yesterday invited President Bush to travel to Iran and speak on campus about a range of issues, including the Holocaust, terrorism, human rights and U.S. foreign policy, the Fars News Agency reported yesterday.
The invitation from Ferdowsi University in the northeastern city of Mashhad asked Bush to answer questions from students and professors "just the same way" that Ahmadinejad took questions "despite all the insults directed at him."
The White House said yesterday that Bush would be willing to travel to Iran, but under different circumstances.
"President Bush looks forward to traveling to a democratic Iran, an Iran where its leaders allow freedom of speech and assembly for all of its people and an Iran where the leaders mourn the victims of the Holocaust, not call for the destruction of Israel," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
The rhetoric followed the passage of a nonbinding resolution by Iran's parliament that labeled the CIA and the U.S. Army "terrorist organizations." That move came after the U.S. Senate last week approved a similar non-binding resolution, by a 76 to 22 vote, that urged the Bush administration to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group.
"The aggressor U.S. Army and Central Intelligence Agency are terrorists and also nurture terror," said the Iranian resolution, which was signed by 215 of parliament's 290 members over the weekend.
In a separate matter, a remark attributed to Debra Cagan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for coalition affairs, that she "hates" all Iranians has led to calls by Iranian Americans for her resignation. Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reported over the weekend that she told six members of Britain's Parliament, "I hate all Iranians." The paper quoted three members of the British delegation.
In a statement relayed by the Pentagon press office yesterday, Cagan denied making the comment. "I never said that. And I don't speak that way in any event," she said.