Quotes From Ahmadinejad's AP Interview
Quotes from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks in an hour-long interview with The Associated Press, conducted at his New York hotel Tuesday, ahead of his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday:
_ On the three American hikers who were detained after straying across the Iranian border:
"The judiciary handles these cases. The judiciary in Iran is completely independent and no one can interfere in the process of law and the work of the judge ... We're not happy that this happened ... What I can ask is that the judiciary expedites the process and gives it its full attention, and to basically look at the case with maximum leniency ... The judiciary has its own procedures to follow, but I'm hopeful."
_ On the Holocaust:
"I fundamentally raise two questions regarding the Holocaust ... The first question is that assuming the Holocaust did happen, where did it exactly happen and who were the perpetrators? The second question is how exactly does that connect to the Palestinian issue? ...
"If something has occurred in Europe by the hands of European governments, can we seek remedy for it in other lands and territories? Is it the Palestinian people that should be compensating for the act through becoming displaced and why? ... We know that over 60 million people were killed in the course of the Second World War. Each and every one of them were human beings ...
"The Palestinian people, what we argue is they had no role in World War II, but then they were placed in a position to make up for the terrors carried out by others. At the end of the day they are human beings as well, they like to live in their own country and homeland, but they are besieged. And exactly why? Have we asked that question sufficiently? For a crime they did not do. So these are really the nature of the questions that I raise. It is really regrettable that the press at times distorts my opinions on this issue. We're not here basically to argue over historical issues. It is really my intention to examine the result of what happened and see how to best to improve the lives of people living now ...
"From where I stand, I wasn't there 60 years ago, we are here now ... and what we see are Palestinians being killed. So I think today it is our task to stop that. Empathy for history is necessary and there are museums that can help promote that empathy. But today people are being killed and what matters most is to stop the killings now. If the Holocaust is being used as a pretext to kill the Palestinian people, then inevitably it's also necessary to discuss the Holocaust."
_ On cooperating to help stabilize neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq:
"The occupying forces or the groups that have sent in the military to these two states, if indeed their policy has led to further instability, what do they want us to do? What exactly can we do for a car that has decided to speed up and basically crash down the hill? I don't see exactly what we can do under that scenario."
_On Iran's nuclear ambitions:
"The discussion on the nuclear issue is certainly free and open. We will not seek to avoid any form of discussion or prevent it. But it's really not on our agenda. We will pursue the nuclear issue only through the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), because that provides that legal framework ... We believe that nuclear weapons are the source of threats and instability. So global will is required to achieve full nuclear disarmament. Secondly, we need to pave the way to increase opportunities for the peaceful use of nuclear technology and energy."
_On President Barack Obama:
"Mr. Obama is not the first president here who believes Iran is a threat. We would appreciate it if you could advise him to revisit history and read it again to see what the fate is of viewing these problems from this perspective. Historically, whoever made friends with Iran saw a lot of opportunities."
_ On the U.S. shift away from a planned long-range missile shield in Europe, meant to guard against an Iranian strike:
"I heard Mr. Obama saying the next threat is Iran. Iran is an opportunity for everyone."
_ On the deaths of protesters after Iran's disputed election:
"These were our citizens who were killed, and they were not at fault. Those who were at fault were a group of politicians who basically instigated the events that transpired. I've asked the judicial system ... to find out who the perpetrators of those acts were.
"The government has no role in these events ... Undoubtedly, some foreign governments had a role to play in it ... It is all very regrettable ... Some European and American politicians took a wrong position and basically helped that happen."