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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ahmadinejad Aide: No Hostility Toward Israelis

TEHRAN, Aug 13: Iran MPs round on Ahmadinejad aide over pro-Israeli remarks

More than 200 conservative Iranian lawmakers lashed out on Wednesday at a top aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his controversial remarks that Iranians are "friends with Israelis."

The MPs issued a strongly-worded statement calling on Ahmadinejad to take action against his deputy, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie.

"Mr Mashaei does not have the right to take such a disgraceful stance and he is not competent to hold such a responsibility," according to the statement read out in parliament by one of the MPs. "Condemning this regretful position, we deputies ask Dr Ahmadinejad to deal with him seriously," the MP told the 290-seat assembly.

Rahim Mashaie, vice president in charge of tourism, is one of Ahmadinejad's closest allies and earlier this year his daughter married the president's son.

"I have said before that we do not have any hostility against the Israeli people and I still say the same thing proudly," he said in remarks published in several local newspapers on Monday.

"Not all the Israeli people are wearing (military) boots on the street."

Ahmadinejad himself has earned international notoriety for his frequent verbal assaults against the Jewish state, which he has described as a "stinking corpse" and has predicted is doomed to disappear.

The Islamic republic vows never to recognise Israel, an ally of the pro-US shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who was ousted in the 1979 Islamic revolution, and Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said Iran is ready to talk to all countries except the "Zionist regime."

Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear armed state, considers Iran its main strategic threat because of its nuclear programme, which Israel and its US ally suspect is aimed at developing weapons.

Iran has repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting its nuclear drive is aimed solely at providing electricity for its growing population when its fossils fuels run out.

The animosity between the two nations has spilled over to the Beijing Olympics, where an Iranian swimmer failed to appear for the men's 100m breaststroke heats on Saturday, apparently because an Israeli was also racing.

And on Monday, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani insisted bluntly: "We are not friends with the Israeli people."

Source: IC News

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