US calls for end to Ahmadinejad’s ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ (Lead)

April 21st, 2009 - 1:47 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 21 (DPA) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments against Israel at a conference Monday were “unacceptable” and would only serve to fuel racial hatred, the US State Department said.
“Unfortunately, we’ve heard all of this before from President Ahmadinejad. The comments that he made, frankly, were unacceptable and, frankly, feed racial hatred,” spokesman Robert Wood said. “Iran needs to end this type of inflammatory rhetoric. It’s not helpful.”

The US and a handful of other Western countries boycotted the UN conference in Geneva, saying the proposed document for countering worldwide racism unfairly singled out Israel and threatened freedom of speech.

The Geneva gathering was a follow-on to the 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa, which was also boycotted by Washington over concerns of an anti-Israeli slant.

Ahmadinejad was the only head of state to attend Monday’s meeting. His comments against Israel prompted Western diplomats to walk out during his address. The Iranian hardliner said that Palestinians had been “made homeless” following World War II “under the pretext of Jewish suffering”.

He called the Israeli government a “racist regime” and accused Western countries of giving it a “free hand to continue their crimes”.

“World Zionism personifies racism,” he said.

Wood said there was no place in the 21st century for the views of Ahmadinejad, who has previously cast doubt on the Holocaust.

“You saw today a number of delegates walked out during his speech, which I think sent a very powerful message to Iran that this type of rhetoric is unhelpful,” Wood said.

Earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned Ahmadinejad’s comments.

“I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian president to accuse, divide and even incite. This is the opposite of what this conference seeks to achieve,” Ban said in a statement.

He said the speech would make it more difficult to deal with the “very real problem of racism”.

“The secretary general reminded the president that the UN General Assembly had adopted the resolution to revoke the equation of Zionism with racism,” the statement read.

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