- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2008

ROME | President Bush threatened Iran Wednesday with more sanctions if it failed to stop enriching uranium and said all options were on the table to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Bush, who met German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of his weeklong tour of Europe before flying to Rome, is pressing allies to agree to new punitive measures against Iran.

While Europeans have voiced support for new sanctions, they are also looking past Mr. Bush, whose presidency ends in January.

“Both the chancellor and my first choice, of course, is to solve this diplomatically,” Mr. Bush told a joint press conference with Mrs. Merkel.

But he added: “All options are on the table,” a reference to the threat of military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at making atomic bombs.

“The message to the Iranian government is very clear,” said Mr. Bush, visiting Europe for the last time before the end of his eight years in office.

Mrs. Merkel was more cautious, saying she could “not exclude” a further round of sanctions if Iran failed to cooperate and suspend enrichment work, which Tehran argues is for peaceful power generation.

Despite three rounds of sanctions by the U.N. Security Council, Iran has refused to stop enrichment.

This weekend, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana will be in Iran to present a revised package of political and economic incentives for Iran to give up enrichment, similar to an offer made in 2006 that was rejected.

In a speech in western Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Bush “era” had ended and promised Iran’s foes would not be able to “harm even a centimeter” of its territory.

Mr. Bush met Mrs. Merkel at an isolated government residence at Meseberg north of Berlin where meetings can take place out of the media glare.

He then headed to Rome to meet with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Pope Benedict XVI before continuing on to Paris, London, and Northern Ireland in the next few days.

About 1,000 peace activists and leftists waving banners staged a protest in the center of Rome when Mr. Bush arrived in the city.

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