Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the United Nations headquarters in New York September 24, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
On Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to a group of editorial leaders for the annual U.N. General Assembly, dismissed threats of military action against his country’s nuclear program and said dialogue with the United States was still possible.
In his last visit to the U.N as President of Iran, Ahmadinejad said that Iran’s project to enrich uranium only had peaceful purposes, the Associated Press reported. He also addressed the Syrian civil war and said, “We like and love both sides, and we see both sides as brothers.” Ahmadinejad did not, however, say if Iran would accept a government led by Syrian rebels, the AP reported.
Despite asserting his willingness to enter dialogue with the United States, Ahmadinejad was not so open to dialogue with Israel. According to the AP, Ahmadinejad refused to speak of Israel by name and instead referred to “Zionists.”
“Fundamentally, we do not take seriously threats of the Zionists,” Ahmadinejad said. “We believe the Zionists see themselves at a dead end and they want to find an adventure to get out of this dead end. While we are fully ready to defend ourselves, we do not take these threats seriously.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Ahmadinejad told reporters that Israel existed “during a historical phase” to create “minimal disturbances that come into the picture and then are eliminated.”
He also dismissed Iran’s rival for its short-lived history, telling reporters that it has been in the Middle East for only 60 to 70 years “with the support and force of the Westerners” and that Iran has 10,000 years of existence. According to Reuters, Ahmadinejad said, “Iran has been around for the last seven, 10 thousand years. They (the Israelis) have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history.”
In regards to Iran’s nuclear program, Ahmadinejad asserted that Iran was willing to negotiate with the United States. “We are not expecting that a 33-year-old problem between America and Iran to be resolved in speedy discussions, but we do believe in dialogue,” he said.
The AP reported that Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, responded, “Well, President Ahmadinejad says foolish, offensive and sometimes unintelligible things with great regularity. What he should focus on is the failure of his government of Iran to abide by its international obligations, to abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
Ahmadinejad is scheduled to deliver a speech in front of the U.N. General Council on Wednesday, which may cause a walkout among Western and Israeli leaders.