SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has met with the emir of Qatar to discuss plans for the Taliban to open an office in the Gulf state.
He discussed "issues of mutual interest" with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the state news agency QNA said, without elaborating on the substanec of their talks. The meeting was also attended by the Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani.
He also held talks with Qatar's ambassador to Pakistan during a tour of an Islamic art museum in Doha.
Karzai arrived in Qatar on Saturday and also met with Afghan and Arab officials and businessmen. The delegation traveling with the Afghan president includes Zalmai Rassoul, the foreign minister; Salahuddin Rabbani, the head of the High Peace Council; and Rangin Dadfar Spanta, a presidential advisor.
Until earlier this year, Karzai was strongly opposed to the Taliban having a meeting venue outside Afghanistan, but the US has pushed for the Taliban to be present at the negotiatiing table as that country prepares to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in the next two years.
"If we want to have talks to bring peace to Afghanistan, the main side must be the Afghan government's representatives - the High Peace Council, which has members from all the country's ethnic and political backgrounds," Aimal Faizi, a Karzai spokesperson said.
Kabul has repeatedly stressed that it would only start talks if the fighters broke all links with al-Qaeda and gave up violence.
Faizi said any Taliban office in Qatar must be held to strict conditions.
"It can only be an address where the armed opposition sit and talk to the Afghanistan government," he said. "This office can not be used for any other purposes."
'Not our concern'
The UN this week welcomed Karzai's Qatar visit, and issued another call for the Taliban to come to the peace table.
"You are Afghans, you care, I assume, about your country, you care about [a] peaceful stable future of the country," Jan Kubis, the UN envoy to Afghanistan, said.
But the Qatar office could mean little if the Taliban refuse to negotiate with Karzai or the government-appointed High Peace Council.
The Taliban have refused to have direct contact with Karzai, saying he was a puppet of the United States, which has supported his rise to power after the military operation to oust the fighters in 2001.
"The opening of the Taliban office in Qatar is not related to Karzai, it is a matter between the Taliban and the Qatar government," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
"If Karzai visits, it is not our concern. Our representatives who are already in Qatar won't see or talk to him."
In Afghanistan, an air strike by a NATO helicopter has killed one child and several suspected Taliban fighters in the southeast.
The aircraft came to support Afghan troops who were attacked near the town of Ghazni. At least 13 people were wounded. -www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Jazeera
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –China will hold three rounds of trade negotiations with Japan and South Korea this year and step up talks with other trading partners, the Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday, as U.S. efforts to seal a trans-Pacific free trade deal gather pace.
China said the first set of talks on a three-way free trade agreement (FTA) with its two neighbors would be staged in Seoul, the South Korean capital, from March 26-28. They will then move to China, with a third leg to be held in Japan, ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told a news conference.
The talks are seen by analysts as a two-pronged initiative by Beijing to engage with Japan after recent diplomatic tension over disputed island territory in the East China Sea, while also countering the "pivot" by the United States to reaffirm its role in Asia in the face of China's economic rise.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week that Tokyo would seek to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks that currently bring together the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.
Bringing the world's third-largest economy into the negotiations would set the stage for a final agreement covering nearly 40 percent of world's economic output, but could also isolate China in the process.
"We will improve communications and talks with the related parties and push forward the progress of our own free trade areas," Shen told reporters when asked to respond to Japan's plan to join TPP negotiations.
"We always think that every economy in the world has the right to participate in the process of world economic integration and we always take an open and inclusive attitude for all efforts to push for regional and world cooperation," Shen said.
"We also think that any regional or bilateral free trade agreement should be only a complement to the multi-lateral trade system, not a replacement for it," he said.
Shen gave no dates for any of the later talks he said were planned as part of the three-way China-Japan-South Korea pact.
The three nations last held ministerial-level talks on a free trade deal four months ago during the East Asia Summit held in Cambodia.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Egyptian opposition leaders have rejected calls by President Mohammed Morsi to enter a national dialogue.
Mr Morsi, under fire for assuming broad new powers, had invited political groups for talks on Saturday.
But the opposition said the president had offered few concessions, and criticised his refusal to delay a constitutional referendum.
Both opponents and supporters of President Morsi have held fresh demonstrations in Cairo.
Opposition protesters marched on the presidential palace - the scene of deadly clashes in recent days. Some activists broke through police barricades around the palace, state TV reported.
Meanwhile thousands of Morsi supporters marched during the funerals of two men killed in the recent clashes.
The main opposition movement said on Friday it would not take part in Saturday's talks.
"The National Salvation Front is not taking part in the dialogue, that is the official stance," spokesman Ahmed Said confirmed in a statement.
Nobel prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, the movement's chief co-ordinator, posted a message on his Twitter account calling on political groups to shun all dialogue with Mr Morsi.
"We [want] a dialogue not based on an arm-twisting policy and imposing fait accompli," his message read.
Two other opposition groups, the liberal Wafd party and the National Association for Change, said they were also boycotting the talks, state media report.
The president angered his opponents on Thursday when he refused in a televised statement to withdraw his new powers and delay a referendum on Egypt's draft constitution. The vote is due to be held on 15 December.
Opposition leaders said Mr Morsi had missed a historic chance for compromise.
Egypt has been plunged into crisis since he issued a decree on 22 November stripping the judiciary of any power to challenge his decisions.
The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says the growing tensions reveal deep divisions within the Muslim Brotherhood.
Whenever there is talk of compromise, the movement's hardliners seem to win the battle, our correspondent reports. Critics say Mr Morsi is not acting as president of the whole country, but rather as a delegate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
New clashes have been reported on Friday between supporters and opponents of President Morsi outside a mosque in the city of Alexandria.
The April 6 movement, an activist group that played a major role in last year's revolt against former President Hosni Mubarak, said on its Facebook page that protests on Friday would deliver a "red card" to Mr Morsi.
Other opposition groups also called for protests after Friday prayers across Egypt.
Earlier this week, thousands of protesters fought outside the presidential palace using stones, petrol bombs and guns. Five people were killed and hundreds more injured.
Late on Thursday, opposition supporters ransacked the Muslim Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters and set it on fire. The Muslim Brotherhood dominates the government and backs Mr Morsi.
Police also fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters gathered outside the president's house in his hometown of Zagazig, north of Cairo.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama called Mr Morsi to express his "deep concern" over the recent violent protests, the White House said.
He welcomed Mr Morsi's call for talks, but stressed they should be "without preconditions", a statement said.
Mr Morsi has confirmed that the referendum on a new constitution will go ahead as planned, saying that if the constitution were voted down, another constituent assembly would be formed to write a new draft.
Critics say the draft, drawn up by a body dominated by Morsi-supporting Islamists, was rushed through parliament without proper consultation and does not do enough to protect political and religious freedoms and the rights of women.
On Thursday TV host Khayri Ramadan resigned on air, after the privately owned CBC channel reportedly refused to allow an opposition leader appear on his show.
"Out of respect for my professionalism and for my dear guest who honoured me tonight, I announce my resignation," Mr Ramadan said.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Colombian government negotiators have arrived in Havana for peace talks with leftist FARC rebels aimed at ending Latin America's longest-running uprising.
Rebel delegates, including Tanja Nijmeijer, a Dutch woman who fights alongside the FARC rebels, are already in Cuba awaiting Monday's talks that had been delayed for four days over a lack of clarity over the role of civilian representatives.
"This will be a rapid and effective process. A process of months, not years," lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle told reporters in Bogota before boarding the plane for Havana on Sunday.
Latin America's largest rebel group, founded in 1964 and with 9,200 armed fighters now, FARC - the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - may be ready for a truce after a long string of setbacks.
In recent years, it has suffered the capture or killing of some of its senior leaders, and the depletion of its ranks to half what they were at their peak in the 1990s.
De la Calle said he believed this was "the defining moment" for Colombian peace efforts as both sides had agreed that discussions, now set to start on Monday, "must end with a final agreement on the conflict".
He said the government wants to build "a stable peace," and envisaged that "the FARC would be turned into a legal political party".
De la Calle travelled to Havana with all the other high level members of the delegation bar one - retired police chief Oscar Naranjo - who is scheduled to arrive on Monday.
These negotiations, the fourth attempt to broker peace between the government and the FARC, have raised hopes of breaking a decades-long cycle of conflict responsible for killing hundreds of thousands.
The Havana meetings, following on the start of a dialogue in Norway one month ago, are to focus on a five-point agenda that includes land issues, participation in politics, drug trafficking, disarmament and restitution for conflict victims.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Russia says it welcomes regular contact between Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and the European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told IRNA on Thursday that Jalili and Ashton’s direct talks keep the process of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 -- Russia, China, France, the US, the UK and Germany -- dynamic.
Lukashevich emphasized that Russia is against a long hiatus in talks between Iran and the P5+1, adding that Moscow’s stance regarding negotiations has not changed.
The Russian official went on to say that Moscow believes continuation of talks between Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is necessary and will work towards this goal.
Deputy Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Baqeri and Helga Schmid, deputy to the EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton, held daylong talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul on July 24.
The meeting was held three weeks after Iran and the P5+1 held expert-level talks in Istanbul with the participation of representatives and experts from both sides.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies have accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of IAEA, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Police in Kosovo have fired teargas and arrested dozens of people during clashes with opposition activists demonstrating against a new push by the European Union to improve the country's ties with Serbia.
Monday's unrest followed a meeting last week in Brussels between Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic. It was the first meeting at such a level since majority-Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
The EU says the two must normalise relations and solve a range of practical problems arising from Serbia's refusal to
recognise Kosovo if they are to make further progress toward joining the bloc.
But hardliners in Kosovo say they have nothing to discuss with Serbia, which was bombed by NATO in 1999 to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians by Serb forces under late leader Slobodan Milosevic during a two-year
Chanting "thieves" and "shame", up to 200 activists of the opposition Self-determination Party tried to blockade Thaci's office in protest at his meeting with Dacic, who was Milosevic's wartime spokesperson. A banner read, "No bargain with Serbia!"
Police drove them back with pepper spray and teargas. Sixty people were arrested and 18 officers were injured when
protesters pelted them with stones, police said.
"This was a shameful meeting [in Brussels]," said self-determination deputy leader Shpend Ahmeti. "After all the crimes in Kosovo, no one has taken responsibility or apologised."
The party said several activists were beaten by police and treated in hospital.
EU-mediated talks are expected to resume in November, focusing on a range of practical problems arising from the lack
of diplomatic relations, including energy supplies, a telephone country code for Kosovo and management of their joint border.
The most contentious issue will be Kosovo's north, a mainly Serb-populated region propped up by Belgrade in a de facto ethnic partition of the country.
Thaci called the protesters "isolated voices".
"The voices of these individuals are always opposed to progress in Kosovo and they follow the same agenda as the opponents of Kosovo's independence," he told a cabinet meeting.
The EU, which made Serbia a candidate for membership in March, wants Belgrade to loosen its grip on Kosovo's north, but the Serbs there refuse to have anything to do with Thaci's government in Pristina and function largely as part of the Serbian state.
Kosovo has been recognised by more than 90 countries, including the US and 22 of the EU's 27 members.
Serbia, backed by UN Security Council veto holder Russia, says it will never recognise the country of 1.7 million people as sovereign.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Closed-door talks between the Colombia government and rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are underway in a bid to end almost half a century of armed conflict.
Thursday’s negotiations in Oslo are the first direct talks in more than a decade and the Colombian government voicing cautious optimism about a possible deal.
Both parties, whisked through a VIP section of Oslo airport, were taken to an undisclosed location around midday with the media completely shut out for planned meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, the Norwegian foreign ministry said.
This is the latest attempt to negotiate peace with the drug-funded rebels since they formed back in 1964. Past discussions ended in shambles, even strengthening the guerrillas' ability to attack civilian and military targets.
If the preliminary talks in Oslo go smoothly, further negotiations addressing the precise details of a deal are scheduled later in Havana.
Together with Cuba, Norway is playing the role of facilitator in the peace process that seeks to put an end to a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives in the past 50 years.
'Lower tone of fighting'
The five-point discussions will likely be thorny as they focus on the drug trade, victim rights, land ownership in rural areas, FARC participation in politics and how to end the war.
Despite the talks, Colombian troops have continued their offensive against the rebels and guerrillas have stepped up attacks in recent days against energy and mining installations.
Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, has refused to call a ceasefire until a peace accord is reached.
Meanwhile, opposition Senator Wilson Arias said: "Negotiating while conflict goes on is very dangerous and so I ask both sides to be very cautious with their actions."
"They both should lower the tone of the fighting," he told Reuters news agency.
As well as being a personal victory for Santos, a successful end to the talks would increase the Andean nation's weight in investment portfolios after years of being considered one of the world's most dangerous places to visit and do business.
Direct foreign investment this year is expected to reach approximately $17bn, a record, and well above the $2bn it attracted in 2002. Back then, the FARC was at its strongest and able to easily launch attacks on the capital, Bogota.
Still, peace with the FARC will by no means end violence in Colombia as drug trafficking and criminal gangs - many born out of the demobilisation of right-wing armed groups – may continue to operate across the nation.
The negotiators are due to speak to reporters on Thursday, though it is not yet clear whether the two sides will appear together at the press conference.
Elected in a landslide in 2010 promising to maintain the tough stance against insurgents adopted by his predecessor Alvaro Uribe, Santos has been slammed by opponents for a perceived deterioration in security.
Santos' approval ratings have recovered since the peace talks were announced.
Rumors of talks with the FARC, Latin America's largest armed group, swirled since Santos assumed office and took early steps to kick-start the process with reforms giving land back to displaced peasants and paying reparations to FARC victims.
While most Colombians approve of peace talks, polls show that more than half would oppose any deal allowing FARC leaders to participate in politics or giving them an amnesty for crimes committed in the conflict.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Russia criticized the European Union on Wednesday for imposing new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and called for a fresh round of talks between world powers and Tehran as soon as possible.
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing "deep concern" over EU sanctions imposed on Tuesday against major Iranian state companies in the oil and gas industry and the central bank.
Moscow said unilateral sanctions by the EU dealt a "palpable blow" to the unity of the six nations - the United States, France, Britain, China, Germany and Russia - leading diplomatic efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear program.
"We will continue to consistently seek to achieve the organization of the next round of negotiations ... as soon as possible," the statement said. No talks have been held since the last round in Moscow failed to bring a breakthrough last June.
Russia has supported four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran but says further measures are counterproductive.
The West suspects Iran of using its civilian atomic energy program as a cover for ambitions to build a nuclear bomb - accusations Tehran denies.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday she hoped turning up the heat on the Islamic Republic would persuade it to make concessions and that negotiations could resume "very soon".— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — "O John!’ [We said] ‘Hold on with power to the Book!’ And We gave him judgement while still a child." (Holy Qur'an 19:12)
This is how God informs us, while entrusting the divine mission to the still beardless boy, Yahya ibn Zakariyya (John the Baptist).
Later in the same Surah (Maryam), to the further bewilderment of the stupefied sceptics, secularists, agnostics and all those devoid of faith and facts, we learn that Jesus (AS) was granted Prophethood and given the Scripture while still an infant in the cradle.
"Thereat she (the Virgin Mary) pointed to him. They (the ever-doubting Israelites) said, ‘How can we speak to one who is yet a baby in the cradle?’
"He (the infant Jesus) said, ‘Indeed I am a servant of Allah! He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet." (19:29,30)
Perhaps, those who are fickle of faith might say that John and Jesus are too remote in history, and even if the Divine Testimony about them is to be believed, no 'authentic' contemporary account is available today, in the limelight of history recorded by 'fallible' humans, on how these "Infallibles" behaved and how they discharged their God-given duties.
Perhaps, the mentally retarded self-styled scientific minds of our day might argue that the various Christian gospels – irrespective of the period in which these were actually compiled – are mute on the childhood account of the life of the Messiah, and mainly deal with the closing years of his mission.
In response, as their explanations of the John-Jesus phenomena, the apologists among the Muslims and even the Christians are quick in pointing at the astounding child prodigals that often crop up in various cultures and societies of the world.
But this argumentation falls short of providing concrete rational proofs in view of the fact that these 'wonder children', because of a variety of factors, often turn out to be totally blind to the realities of their own creation despite their amazing scientific discoveries and computer like brains that solve the most complicated mathematical problems. Actually there are many instances of these 'child prodigals' actually destroying the fundamentals of humanity, such as faith, morals, and the overall prosperity of mankind, by misuse of their exceptional brains.
Glory to the All-Wise Creator, Who so precisely fashioned the universe and all that it contains! He is aware of even thoughts that flash across the minds of His creatures, and anticipates all events to come!
It is here that the dynamism of Islam comes to mankind's rescue. By the dynamism of Islam I don't mean the self-contradictory compilations of sunnah and seerah written on hearsay – similar to the Christian Gospels – by those who had neither seen or heard Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) nor had any access to firsthand accounts from those intimately linked by faith and characteristics to the person of God's Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind.
Thus, it is not without reason that we the followers of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt regard the auspicious 10th of Rajab to be a day of added importance.
Today, while celebrating the birth anniversary of the Prophet's namesake and 9th Infallible Heir, Imam Muhammad at-Taqi al-Jawad (AS), we realize the fact that if Divine Providence had not decreed him to be the Imam of the Age at such a tender age, and that too in the full limelight of history with vivid accounts of his rational debates and wisdom beyond years recorded by contemporaries – both friends and foes – the ayahs of the holy Qur'an pertaining to John and Jesus would have lacked practical paradigms.
Born in 195 AH (811 CE) in Medina, he was a mere boy of 8 years when God entrusted to him the spiritual leadership of mankind following the martyrdom of his father, Imam Reza (AS) in distant Khorasan. As a matter of fact, two years before that in 201 AH, at the age of six years, his wisdom had been exposed to public view for the people of Medina by his father, who entrusted him the affairs of the area, while departing for the long journey.
It will be repetitive to cite the triumphant debates he held as a beardless boy with grey-bearded ideologues. It is also out of context to mention that his own son and successor, Imam Ali an-Naqi al-Hadi (AS), was also a boy of 8 years at his martyrdom in the full bloom of youth at the age of 25 years.
To end the column here is an account from Muhammad al-Mahmoori narrated from his father, who said: “Once, I was standing near Imam Reza (AS) in Tous when one of his companions asked him, ‘If something happens (to you), to whom shall we refer?’ He asked about the next imam after him so that they would know to whom they should obey and submit."
"Imam Reza (AS) replied: ‘To my son Abu Ja’far’ (who was still a child).
The man said, ‘I think he is very small as of yet.’
Imam Reza (AS) replied: ‘Allah sent Jesus the son of Mary (as a Prophet) though he was even younger than Abu Ja’far will be when he shall become the imam.’”
The learned ar-Rayyan bin as-Salt had said in this regard: “If it is decreed by Allah the Almighty, then a two-day-old child can be like a hundred-year-old man, but if it is not decreed by Allah, then even if one lives for five thousand years, he will not be able to do what the masters can do or even a part of it. This is worth pondering upon.”www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s eighth address to the UN General Assembly was defined mostly by its absences: The Syrian conflict and an infamous anti-Muslim film weren’t mentioned, and the US delegation wasn’t present in the chamber.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for world leaders to serve their people, not rule over them during his speech before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
In a surprise turn, Ahmadinejad’s speech took on an almost poetic bent evoking “the spring of humanity and the greenery of all ages.”
During his address, the word “peace” was used 12 times, “justice” 15 and “love” 13.
Peace and love were not the only items on the agenda, as Ahmadinejad enumerated a litany of injustices that had occurred throughout history despite the striving of “righteous people and justice seekers.”
Several barbs were specifically directed towards the West.
Ahmadinejad decried the “current abysmal situation of the world,” saying it resulted from “the self-proclaimed centers of power who have entrusted themselves to the Devil.”
He further lambasted the“arms race” and “nuclear intimidation" being perpetuated by “hegemonic powers," as well as “the continued threat by uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action.”
US leans on Jewish holiday to explain UN absence
The Iranian leader's comments came as the seats for the US diplomatic mission remained conspicuously empty.
The US had called for a boycott of Ahmadinejad's address on Wednesday, accusing the Iranian President of spouting "paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel."
"It’s particularly unfortunate that Mr. Ahmadinejad will have the platform of the UN General Assembly on Yom Kippur, which is why the United States has decided not to attend," a statement posted by Erin Pelton, the spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations, read.
Ahmadinejad's last serenade
Before delivering his last address the the UN assembly before his term expires next year, the president of the Islamic Republic had made several comments in the run-up to Wednesday's address which incited the ire of Western powers.
On Tuesday, Ahmadinejiad talked at length with the AP on the sidelines of the UN summit in which he unfavorably characterized Western policy regarding Iran.
Speaking through a translator, the Iranian president claimed that Western outrage over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program was a pretext for dominating Iran, as “even elementary school kids throughout the world have understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying.”
While speaking before the UN General assembly on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said that the window of opportunity to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Though Obama charged that the US would not allow Tehran to acquire of nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejiad reiterated his country’s longstanding claim that their uranium enrichment program was strictly for energy production.
“Everyone is aware the nuclear issue is the imposition of the will of the United States,” Ahmadinejiad said. “I see the nuclear issue as a non-issue. It has become a form of one-upmanship.”
'Same slave masters rule the world'
One problem central to the current tensions is that the US never accepted the legitimacy of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejiad said, calling for the creation of a new, less polarized world order.
"I do believe the system of empires has reached the end of the road. The world can no longer see an emperor commanding it," he said.
His comments echoed the contentious statements he made before the UN Generally Assembly last year, when he referred to current international powers as “the same slave masters” who “imposed colonialism for over four centuries upon this world.”
He incited further walkouts with his insinuations that the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks, proclaiming that “instead of assigning a fact-finding team, they killed the main perpetrator [Osama bin Laden] and threw his body into the sea.”
'Israel has no roots'
The Iranian president also stirred controversy on Monday when he referred to modern-day Israel as a mere blip in world history.
“Iran has been around for the last seven, ten thousand years. They [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,” Reuters quoted him as saying. “We don't even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they [Israelis] represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated.”
Ahmadinejiad also dismissed threats of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities: "Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists…We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves."
Despite Western condemnation of his remarks, the Iranian president refused to back down during Wednesday interviews.
“When have we threatened to attack the Zionists? We have never threatened them,” Ahmadinejiad said in an interview broadcast on CBS’s ‘Early Morning.’ He argued that Israel’s “occupation,” “war-like behavior” and “terrorism” need to end, repeating his long-running claim that Palestinians should be allowed to achieve democratic self-determination on their own historical lands.
He also called on the United States to patient, as he routinely was forced to exercise patience as he listened to the US president berate Iran before the General Assembly.
Having served two terms as Iran’s president, Ahmadinejiad will step down once his term ends next year.—www.shafaqna.com/English