( Reuters ) - President George W. Bush on Wednesday reiterated his pledge the United States would defend Israel if it was attacked by Iran, a country whose president has urged that the Jewish state be "wiped off the map."
"I have made it clear that ... we will support our ally Israel if attacked by Iran," Bush said in an interview with CNN that comes on the heels of a Middle East summit aimed at rekindling peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.
"I hope it doesn't happen," he said.
Still, Bush said he took seriously the various comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Israel. Ahmadinejad has questioned whether the genocide by the Nazis against Jews took place, one of a number of comments that have fueled international criticism.
The United States and other Western powers have accused Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons under the cover of a nuclear energy program, a charge Iran denies. The White House has also accused Iran of aiding insurgents in neighboring Iraq.
Iran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denounced the Middle East peace talks and said they were "doomed to failure." Iran was not invited to the talks but several other Arab neighbors participated in the three-day conference.