The Israeli delegation to the annual UN General Assembly rose from their seats and walked out today as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his speech by saying that the country had ‘no roots’ in the Middle East and would be ‘eliminated’.
Flashing the peace sign on several occasions, Ahmadinejad refused to speak of the state of Israel by name and instead referred only to the ‘Zionists’.
He told the UN conference in New York that Iran is unconcerned by Israeli threats of attack but prepared to defend itself.
Ahmadinejad also said that it was not too late for dialogue with the United States to resolve differences.
Meanwhile angry protests were taking place outside the Warwick Hotel at West 54th Street in Manhattan over its decision to allow Ahmadinejad to stay during his visit.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted Israel could strike Iran’s nuclear sites and has criticized U.S. President Obama’s position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iran denies that it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic work is peaceful, aimed at generating electricity.
‘Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists. … We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves,’ Ahmadinejad told reporters.
‘While we are fully ready to defend ourselves, we do not take such threats seriously,’ he said, speaking through an interpreter.
He also said that Iran is neutral in the Syrian civil war, and denied that Tehran is providing weapons or training to the government of President Bashar Assad.
Ahmadinejad said: ‘We like and love both sides, and we see both sides as brothers.’
He referred to the conflict in Syria as ‘tribal’ fighting and said that international ‘meddling from the outside has made the situation even harder’.
It was Ahmadinejad’s eighth visit to the U.N. gathering held each September, which he cited as proof that he is open to understanding other countries’ views.
In spite of his assertions on the importance of dialogue and respect for others, Ahmadinejad presented a hard line in many areas.
He refused to speak of the state of Israel by name and instead referred only to the ‘Zionists’, and when asked about author Salman Rushdie he made no attempt to distance himself from recent renewed threats on the author’s life emanating from an Iranian semi-official religious foundation.
He said: ‘If he is in the U.S., you should not broadcast it for his own safety.’
Rushdie, an Indian-born British novelist who has nothing to do with the video, was condemned to death in 1989 by Khomeini, Iran’s late leader, over his novel The Satanic Verses, saying its depiction of the Prophet Mohammad was blasphemous.
Ahmadinejad said this would be his last trip to New York as president of Iran, because his term is ending and he is barred from seeking a third consecutive term.
But he did not rule out staying active in Iranian politics and said he might return as part of future Iranian delegations to New York.
Source: The Daily Mail