EU´s Ashton condemns "hateful" Iran remarks on Israel (REUTERS) Reporting By Sebastian Moffett; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo BRUSSELS, BELGIUM 08/18/12 1:31pm EDT)
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(Reuters) - The EU foreign policy chief said on Saturday that
comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called Israel
a "cancerous tumour" with no place in a future Middle East,
were "outrageous and hateful".
Catherine Ashton´s language was unusually forthright for the West´s
chief negotiator over Iran´s nuclear program.
Ashton "strongly condemns the outrageous and hateful remarks
threatening Israel´s existence by the Supreme Leader and the
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said a statement by her
"Israel´s right to exist must not be called into question."
On Friday, Ahmadinejad told demonstrators in state-organized protests
that "in the new Middle East ... there will be no trace of the
American presence and the Zionists". As thousands of Iranians
shouted "Death to America, death to Israel", Ahmadinejad called
Israel a "cancerous tumour" for its occupation of Palestinian land.
Earlier this week Iranian media reported that Iran´s Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had said Israel would one day be returned to
the Palestinian nation and would cease to exist.
Ashton is acting as chief negotiator for six powers - the United
States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain - that are trying
to persuade Iran to scale back its nuclear program through economic
sanctions and diplomacy. They fear Iran´s nuclear program aims at
producing weapons, though Tehran says it serves peaceful purposes
Ashton and Iran´s chief negotiator agreed at the start of August to
hold more talks about Iran´s nuclear work, but there has been no sign
of imminent progress in the decade-long dispute.
Ashton "calls upon Iran to play a constructive role in the region and
expects its leaders to contribute to de-escalate tension and not to
fuel it", Saturday´s statement said.
On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the verbal attacks
on Israel were "offensive and inflammatory. (© Thomson Reuters 2012.
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