Iranian leader 'not anti-Semite'

(source: BBC)
Monday, September 25, 2006

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he is not an anti-Semite.

"Jews are respected by everyone, by all human beings," he told a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The remarks come months after Mr Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be wiped off the map - and described the Holocaust as "myth".

In response to questions about Iran's controversial nuclear programme, he said the Iranians "do not need a bomb".

The Iranian president's comments on anti-Semitism came during remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Some people think if they accuse me of being anti-Jew they can solve the problem.

"No, I am not anti-Jew," he said. "I respect them very much."

"Let us remember that there in Palestine there are Muslims, Christians and Jews who live together," he said.

Later, he added: "We love everyone in the world - Jews, Christians, Muslims, non-Muslims, non-Jews, non-Christians... We are against occupation, aggression, killings and displacing people - otherwise we have no problem with ordinary people."

'Nuclear talks'

The Iranian president said he was "at a loss" in understanding what further guarantees Iran needed to provide to prove its nuclear programme was, as it claims, entirely for civilian purposes.

Iran has failed to meet a UN deadline to suspend the enrichment of uranium.

However, Mr Ahmadinejad said talks with the EU on the issue were "on the right path".

"Hopefully others will not disrupt the work," he said

He said Iran was willing to negotiate on suspending uranium enrichment "under fair and just conditions", but gave no timetable.

Mr Ahmadinejad also accused the US of double standards, asking what it had done to destroy its own nuclear weapons and accusing it of developing new ones.

'Old system'

In comments taking in issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Hurricane Katrina, the Iranian president was also critical of the international political system.

He said the current system emanated from a "group of victors who emerged from a world war and are ruling the world".

He said that some members of the UN Security Council sat in judgement of other countries, despite the fact that they were parties to some of the world's conflicts.

He did not specify which countries he was referring to.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Ahmadinejad accused the US and UK of using the UN Security Council for their own ends.

He accused the two of being prosecutor, judge and jury in their differences with other countries.


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