TEHRAN (AFP) – An Iranian university has invited US President George W. Bush to talk on campus, a week after his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was given a frosty reception at a US institute, the press reported on Monday.
The head of Ferdowsi University in Iran’s second city of Mashhad, one of the oldest universities in the country, said Bush should visit to answer questions from students and lecturers on human rights and terrorism.
“President Bush is invited to give a speech and respond to numerous questions, must notably about human rights, terrorism and the Holocaust,” said university president Alireza Afshour, according to the government daily Iran.
“This is what President Ahmadinejad did, despite the lack of respect shown towards him,” he added.
Before a speech to Columbia University in New York on September 25, Ahmadinejad was introduced by the university’s president Lee Bollinger as a “petty and cruel dictator” and then endured jeering during his talk.
He then answered a barrage of questions from the audience, asserting to widespread disbelief that there were “no homosexuals” in Iran. His reception was condemned as insulting across the political spectrum in Iran.
Ahmadinejad had said after his return from the United States, where he also gave a speech to the United Nations, that Bush would be allowed to give a speech at an Iranian university if he so wished.
However given the current hostility between the two arch enemies over Iran’s nuclear drive and alleged support for militants in Iraq, there appears little chance of such a visit taking place in reality.
Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic relations for the past 27 years after Washington cut ties in the wake of a siege of its embassy in Tehran by Islamist students.