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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad applied Wednesday for a visa to enter the United States, the State Department confirmed.

It appears the Iranian leader intends to attend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference at the United Nations in New York, which begins Monday.

Iran’s efforts to harness nuclear energy have much of the world jittery, with Washington leading efforts to suppress Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran contends it only wants to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but the United States and other nations have sought sanctions, fearing Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons.

Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley said the visa request had not yet been approved, noting it had just been received. Asked if the United States would grant Iran’s request, given the frosty relationship between the two nations, Crowley replied, “Well, we have certain responsibilities as the host of the U.N. Any foreign official who’s coming to the U.N. for official business is normally granted a visa. …

“If the Iranians will have a delegation at the NPT conference on Monday and, if they choose to have the president lead that delegation, that’s their decision.”

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune Wednesday his organization is positioned to lead global efforts on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The United Nations, Ban said, “is the world’s sole universally accepted arena for debate and concord” and, along with the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and the International Atomic Energy Agency, serves as the forum where the world can come together. UPI

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