09/23/2009, 00.00
IRAN – ISRAEL – UNITED STATES
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Ahmadinejad urges US to see Iran as a potential friend, not a threat

The Iranian president adopts a peaceful tone on the eve of his UN address. This comes a few days after uttering bellicose words concerning his country’s capabilities to repel any attack and Israeli defence chief’s statement that faced with the Iranian threat, “all the options are on the table” for Israel.
New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged US President Barack Obama to see Iran as a potential friend instead of a threat. He made the peace offering on the eve of his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the Iranian leader appeared to be suggesting that his UN speech would focus on peace, as one of his advisers had already indicated earlier.  But he also showed no sign that he would be tractable on the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, saying that he expects "free and open" discussion on nuclear issues at a meeting next week with the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the Security Council, US, Russia, China, France and UK, plus Germany), but that his country would not negotiate on its own peaceful nuclear plans.

In fact, he is likely to call on major nuclear powers to give up their weapons and expand opportunities for all countries to make peaceful use of nuclear power.

Ahmadinejad also noted that if Obama made major changes to its policies in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, he would find a friend in Iran.

Such peaceful remarks however belie a more bellicose statement he made two days ago in Tehran.

Speaking at a military parade in Tehran commemorating the start of the Iraq-Iran war, Ahmadinejad (pictured) said that Iran would "cut the hand of anyone" who dared to attack it.

“No power will think of launching aggression against Iran. Today Iran is experienced and powerful,” he said.

In this address, he was possibly responding to a statement by Israel's military chief, Gabi Ashkenazi, who on Monday said that the best way to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat was through sanctions against the regime, but that Israel was still preparing for every option to make sure that the Islamic regime did not go nuclear.

"The possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear power is a threat not only to the State of Israel, but for the Middle East and the entire free world," he said. "Israel has the right to defend itself, and all the options are on the table.”

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