NEW YORK – Speaking to reporters in New York Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed he was anti-Zionist, “not anti-Semitic.”
The Iranian leader did not mention Israel in his earlier speech at the United Nations, but in his talk with reporters later he denied the Holocaust again, describing it as "a historic event used as an excuse for war."
The United Nations' Millennium Assembly continued on Tuesday with world leaders examining ways to promote the UN's plan to battle poverty, hunger, and child mortality throughout the world.
Ahmadinejad was also on hand to speak before the special gathering of the General Assembly, using the opportunity to again slam the West.
"Those who only take their own interests into consideration will never be able to bring justice and prosperity to the world," he said in his speech, referencing his worldview that the sun is setting on leaders of the Western powers and capitalism.
The Iranian leader did not address his country's nuclear program, nor did he mention Israel during his speech. However, Ahmadinejad will have another opportunity to speak before the General Assembly on Thursday.
Speaking with reporters in New York Ahmadinejad once again denied the Holocaust and described it as "an historic event used as an excuse for war." He added that he was "not anti-Semitic, but anti-Zionist."
Asked about Holocaust denial, the Iranian president said that the subject warrants further investigation. "It is wrong to enforce only one opinion on the rest of the world," he said. "We must ask where this event occurred and why the Palestinian people continue to suffer because of it?"
Ahmadinejad was also asked about the possibility of a strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities. "The US has never entered into a serious war and has never won such a war," he said.
Referring to the possibility that Israel will attack Iran with the US's support he said: "The Zionist regime is a tiny entity on the map, so much so that it does not count as a variable in our considerations."
President Shimon Peres took the podium on Monday, and the presidents of Iran and Lebanon left the hall in protest. At the start of his speech, Peres said, "History is written in blood. Most of wars were fought over territory. Today, science, creativity, and knowledge have replaced land as the main source of wealth."
Peres also signaled signs of peace to Damascus. "We are willing to start direct negotiations with Syria immediately. We are committed to help reach the objectives of this assembly and are also carrying the burden of saving the world from war and hunger. Without peace, poverty will stay. Without food, peace won't succeed. Statesmen must garner their political forces to achieve peace,"
Dudi Cohen contributed to this report
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