Sunday, March 12, 2006

Iran Focus: "Iran cleric says Ahmadinejad thwarted 'U.S.-Zionist' plot"

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A close ally of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and a chief architect of Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist groups has defended remarks by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against Israel and the Holocaust, the state-run Mehr news agency reported on Sunday.

Radical Shiite cleric Ali-Akbar Mohtashami told a conference on the Arab-Israeli conflict in Tehran that Ahmadinejad’s comments successfully disrupted United States foreign policy in the Middle East, according to the news agency.

The conference, “In defence of the rights of the Palestinian nation”, was attended by radical Muslim activists and writers from several Arab and Islamic countries.

“Certain Arab and Islamic countries were making moves to recognise the Zionist regime (Israel), but this was thwarted by the statements of Mr. Ahmadinejad”, said Mohtashami, who played a pivotal role in the creation of the Lebanese Hezbollah in the early 1980s, while serving as Iran’s ambassador to Syria.

“Ahmadinejad’s speeches have disrupted America’s plans for the region”, the cleric added.

Mohtashami told the conference that under U.S. pressure, “textbooks for schools in Islamic countries were going to include references to the Holocaust”. He said Ahmadinejad’s speeches, calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and describing the Holocaust as a “myth”, had “thwarted these conspiracies”.

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