Ahmadinejad's remarks harmful to better US relations, Obama says
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjed's remarks against Israel at a UN racism conference were "appalling and objectionable," and damaging to the prospects of better relations with the United States, President Barack Obama said Tuesday, dpa reported.
During a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah, Obama responded to Ahmadinejad's comments a day after the Iranian president called Israel a "racist regime" created "under the pretext of Jewish suffering."
"Sadly, the rhetoric is not new," Obama said. "This is the kind of rhetoric that we've come to expect from President Ahmadinejad."
The Obama administration has explored a break with past US policy by engaging in direct dialogue with Tehran. Obama said he will continue to pursue the possibility of better relations and discuss issues of disagreement, particularly Iran's nuclear aspirations.
"But there's no doubt that the kind of rhetoric that you saw from Ahmadinejad is not helpful," Obama said. "In fact, it is harmful, not just with respect to the possibility of US-Iranian relations, but I think it actually undermines Iranians' position in the world as a whole."
The United States and a handful of other Western countries boycotted the UN conference in Geneva, saying the document for countering worldwide racism unfairly singled out Israel and threatened freedom of speech. The document was adopted Tuesday.
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.