Iranian president signals possible acceptance of Israel: Report

April 27th, 2009 - 3:56 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 27 (IANS) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said it will be “fine with us” if the Palestinians reach a two-state deal with Israel.
In an interview with US’ ABC network, the Iranian leader appeared to hold out an olive branch in backing Palestine to pursue a deal for statehood alongside Iran’s arch-enemy.

Recently Ahmadinejad triggered a storm with anti-Israel remarks at a UN racism conference in Geneva. He earlier called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”.

“Whatever decision they take is fine with us. We are not going to determine anything. Whatever decision they take, we will support that,” Ahmadinejad said in the interview in Tehran last week.

“We think that this is the right of the Palestinian people, however we fully expect other states to do so as well,” Ahmadinejad said, without saying whether Iran would recognise Israel as part of a “two-state agreement”.

With regard to Iran’s atomic programme, the Iranian president said it was up to the US to take the lead in the nuclear discussions. “Iran and US relations are dependent on the decision taken by the US administration.”

After three decades of diplomatic freeze, Obama called for direct engagement with Iran to discuss its nuclear programme which Western powers fear could be a cover for building an atomic bomb.

Ahmadinejad said he received criticism at home for sending his message of congratulations on Obama’s election. “Nevertheless, I did that. I am yet to receive a response.”

When asked if Iran was ready to talk to the US without preconditions, he said “No”.

“We should just have a clear-cut framework for talks,” he said.

Ahmadinejad stood by his speech in Geneva that prompted a walkout by European diplomats. The US and Israel boycotted the conference, where the Iranian leader launched a new verbal attack on the Jewish state, Geo TV said Sunday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told US lawmakers last week that the US was preparing for “very tough sanctions” against Iran if the new US overtures to Tehran fail.

Earlier this month, Ahmadinejad said Tehran would offer a new package to the world powers for the nuclear negotiations.

“And we are reconsidering our proposed package,” he told ABC. “We are adding new issues to the realm of the talks. And we are going to make that public as soon as possible. We are always ready to talk,” he said.

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