Ahmadinejad: Europe suffering because of Zionists
Iranian president drops by Rome for UN summit, tells EU Israel a political, economical burden to it. He later says Israel is a 'fabricated regime' which will disappear with or without Iranian involvement. Italian government, seemingly embarrassed by outspoken guest, drops him from summit's gala closing event
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Rome on Tuesday to attend the United Nations summit on global food security.
Ahmadinejad was quick to attack Israel upon his arrival, saying Europe was bearing the economic and political costs of the "false Zionist regime."
"I do not believe that my declarations create problems," Ahmadinejad told summit goers via an interpreter. "People like my comments, because this way the public can save themselves from the imposition of the Zionists.
"European peoples have suffered the greatest damage from Zionists and today the costs of this false regime, be they political or economic costs, are on Europe's shoulders," he said.
Ahmadinejad later warned Israel is "doomed to go," saying it is what he called a "fabricated regime" that will disappear. He said this will happen with or without Iranian involvement.
Italian public television, RAI, reported that the Iranian president's name was dropped from the summit's closing gala event guest list, which will be hosted by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Arriving in Rome. Ahmadinejad (Photo: Reuters)
Ahmadinejad's participation in the summit has been the source of much embarrassment to the Italian government. Both Berlusconi and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini have made it clear that they would not meet with him, since Iran does not recognize Israel's right to exist.
Ahmadinejad has no official meetings planned with any of the summit's Western delegates – over 30 counties have sent missions to the summit.
Ahmadinejad had also reportedly asked for a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI but was turned away. The Vatican issued a statement saying all similar requests to see the pope during the summit were declined as well and added that media interpretations that the pope was snubbing anyone were wrong.
Nir Magal and Reuters contributed to this report