Iranian leader defends 9/11 statement, says UN should investigate

By John Heilprin, AP
Friday, September 24, 2010

Iranian leader defends 9/11 statement

NEW YORK — The Iranian president on Friday defended his remarks at the U.N. in which he claimed most people in the world believe the United States was behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

He also challenged the United Nations to set up a commission to study the attacks.

“I did not pass judgment, but don’t you feel that the time has come to have a fact finding committee,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked during a news conference in a New York hotel.

He also lashed out at the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an overreaction to the attacks. The Americans should “not occupy the entire Middle East…bomb wedding parties…annihilate an entire village just because one terrorist is hiding there.”

Ahmadinejad’s remarks during a speech to the U.N. General Assembly Thursday afternoon prompted a walkout by the U.S. diplomats. Delegations from all 27 European Union nations followed the Americans out along with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Costa Rica, an EU diplomat said.

President Barack Obama responded to Ahmadinejad in a BBC Persian service interview Friday saying: “Well, it was offensive. It was hateful.”

“And particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of Ground Zero, where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation, for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable,” Obama said.

Ahmadinejad routinely makes incendiary remarks, which the West claims are a diversion from heavy international pressure on Tehran to end uranium enrichment and prove that it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon. Iran insists it is enriching uranium only to fuel nuclear reactors only to generate electricity.

Iran is under four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions as punishment for its failure to make its nuclear ambitions transparent.

The Iranian leader said during the news conference that he thought it would be able reopen contact next month to set a framework for negotiations with the five permanent members of the Security Council — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China as well as Germany.

The grouping is known as the P5 + One.

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