Iran's Ahmadinejad: No attack on Israel
( AP ) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that Iran would not launch an attack on Israel or any other country, and he does not believe the U.S. is preparing for war against Iran.
" Iran will not attack any country," Ahmadinejad told The Associated Press. Iran has always maintained a defensive policy, not an offensive one, he said, and has "never sought to expand its territory."
Asked whether he beleved the U.S. is preparing for war, he responded: "That is not how I see it ... I believe that some of the talk in this regard arises first of all from anger. Secondly, it serves the electoral purposes domestically in this country. Third, it serves as a cover for policy failures over Iraq."
In a 30-minute interview at a hotel near the United Nations, Ahmadinejad struck a soothing tone. He said Iranian foreign policy was based on humanitarian concerns and seeking justice.
He reiterated his call for a debate at the United Nations on world issues with President Bush.
Referring to fears of a military campaign against Iran, he said: "We don't think you can compensate for one mistake by committing more mistakes."
The Iranian president, in what is believed to be his first comments on a reported attack Sept. 6 by Israeli bombers inside Syria, said the attack stemmed from Israeli expansionism and "it had nothing to with Iran."
Israel disagreed sharply with the Ahmadinejad's description of Iran's foreign policy. The Iranian government, "through its words and actions, has an aggressive and expansionist policy," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
"They are supporting extremist groups in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. They have their own aggressive nuclear weapons program. The president, before leaving for New York, reviewed a military parade. I think we would be irresponsible if we didn't take the threat that Iran poses to the region and the world seriously," Regev said.
Ahmadinejad is to speak and answer questions at a Columbia forum Monday, followed by a scheduled address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.