The Bush administration says this week's letter from Iran's president does nothing to address the concerns of the international community regarding Tehran's nuclear program.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to be an attempt to deflect attention from Iran's controversial nuclear activities. In comments with reporters Tuesday, he said it was not an issue of responding to the letter - but whether Tehran will respond to the demands of the international community.
Several other administration officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have said the letter does not provide an opening to discuss Iran's nuclear program. In remarks at the White House Monday, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, said it is possible the timing of Mr. Ahmadinejad's letter was an attempt to influence the current debate before the U.N. Security Council.
The 18-page letter, conveyed to the White House by the Swiss government Monday, is believed to be the first from an Iranian leader to a U.S. president since the two countries severed ties in 1979.
It covers a range of issues, including the war in Iraq, U.S. support of Israel and the handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Tehran has portrayed the letter as an important diplomatic initiative, but U.S. officials say it is more of a philosophical document than a political overture.
There is no reference in the letter to Iran's continued enrichment of uranium. The United States and Europe fear Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.