Iran General NewsWhite House to Congress: Avoid Iran

White House to Congress: Avoid Iran

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AP: The White House said Wednesday it would be “unproductive and unhelpful” for Democratic leaders of Congress to visit Iran. Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House said Wednesday it would be “unproductive and unhelpful” for Democratic leaders of Congress to visit Iran.

The criticism came a day after House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos told reporters in San Francisco he has been trying for 10 years to obtain a visa to visit with leaders in Tehran.

“Speaking for myself, I’m ready to go,” said Lantos, D-Calif. “And knowing the speaker, I think she might be.”

However, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she had had no intention of going to Iran.

Pelosi, standing next to Lantos at a press conference, said that while she finds Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks “to be so repulsive that they’re outside the circle of civilized human behavior,” the willingness of Lantos – a Hungarian-born survivor of the Holocaust – to meet with Ahmadinejad “speaks volumes about the importance of dialogue.”

Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be “wiped off the map” and has called the Holocaust a “myth.”

Pelosi recently ran afoul of the White House by visiting Damascus. President Bush said her trip sent mixed messages to the Syrian government, which the administration considers a state supporter of terrorism.

The Bush administration has led an international effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The United States also has accused Iran of meddling in the war in Iraq.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said Wednesday that Tehran has been training Iraqi fighters in the assembly of deadly roadside bombs known as EFPs, or explosively formed penetrators.

“Given Maj. Gen. Caldwell’s comments this morning regarding Iran’s continued meddling in Iraq, it’s troubling that there are Democrats in Congress who are making travel arrangements to go to Tehran,” said White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino.

She said such trips would be “unproductive and unhelpful – and that applies to all members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats. But I don’t know of any Republicans who are signing up to go visit President Ahmadinejad.

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