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(photo credit: Associated Press)
"Bombs will not solve the world's problems," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during an interview published in Time magazine on Monday.
"We are opposed to nuclear weapons," he said, adding, "we think that they were developed only to kill people. They are not beneficial for the human race," saying that he supported nuclear disarmament.
Pentagon drawing battle plans for possible attack
The Iranian president also said he did not deny the Holocaust but that he merely "raised questions on it."
"I said that in World War Two sixty million people were killed. They were all humans with self-respect. Why (do we talk of) just six million? If it happened, it is a historic event, so why do they not allow for an independent investigation? Moreover, how are the Palestinians at fault? These questions need to be answered," said Ahmadinejad.
The president also spoke of the Palestinian issue. "The Palestinians were expelled from their land. They were killed on their land by those who aren't the original residents of the region who came from far-away places and conquered their homes," he exclaimed, proposing that the "five million refugees" be allowed to return to their homes and be integrated into a democratic state.
"We are not opposed the Jewish right to a state. In every country there are people willing to vote Jews into positions of power. In our country Jews live and are represented in parliament. However, Zionists and Jews are different," he said.
On Sunday Ahmadinejad made his first visit to Venezuela, seeking to strengthen ties with a government that has become a leading defender of his nation's nuclear ambitions.
Ahmadinejad has said that he and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez are like "brothers" in a great global struggle, and Chavez promises to argue for Iran's nuclear program if he wins a rotating seat on the UN Security Council in a vote next month.
Chavez has said Venezuela "will stand together with Iran at all times and under any conditions," accusing the US of planning to invade Iran.
The two leaders are united by deep-seated opposition to Washington and to Iran's archenemy Israel, which Chavez accused of committing a new "Holocaust" in its bombardments in Lebanon.
In the past few days, Chavez has sought to drum up support for Iran at the Nonaligned Movement summit in Cuba.
"I ask for full support for the government and the people of Iran in developing their sovereign right to move forward with (nuclear) research," Chavez told fellow leaders at the summit in Havana on Thursday. "It's part of the formula of the future - nuclear energy. We aren't talking about atomic bombs."
Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed solely at generating electricity despite concerns among US and European governments that it could be trying to develop nuclear weapons. Chavez accuses Washington of using the nuclear issue as a pretext to justify an attack on a regime it opposes.
The United States, meanwhile, has been lobbying against Venezuela's bid for a Security Council seat, supporting Guatemala instead.
Together with Iran, Cuba and Syria, Chavez is seeking to form "a new world order" opposing traditional US dominance, said Venezuelan political analyst Alberto Garrido, who writes in a new book, "Las Guerras de Chavez" or "Chavez's Wars," about the Venezuelan leader's growing ties to the Middle East.
Garrido said the secret-ballot vote in the UN General Assembly in mid-October should measure which government has been more successful on the international stage: Venezuela or the United States.
"It will decide how anti-US the posture of countries in the UN is," Garrido said. "If the political situation has changed so much that the vote leans toward the radical position represented by Venezuela, it would be a warning for the United States."
Venezuela and Iran, both major oil-producing countries, have proposed pricing their oil in euros rather than US dollars, a move that Garrido said would likely disrupt the US economy by decreasing reliance on dollars. The US remains the No. 1 buyer of oil from Venezuela, despite increasing political tensions.
Meanwhile, Iran and Venezuela have signed a series of accords for their state oil companies to explore for and extract oil and natural gas here.
After initial talks Sunday in Caracas, Chavez and Ahmadinejad will visit an oil field on Monday for a ceremony marking the start of joint drilling. They also plan a tour to a joint-venture tractor-assembly factory on Monday.
The two presidents will conclude 20 commercial accords, including plans to set up a joint petrochemical company, produce surgical tools and help train Venezuelan iron foundry workers, said Jose Khan, Venezuela's basic industries minister.
The two countries have already signed more than 80 cooperation pledges since early last year, said Alcides Rondon, former deputy foreign minister for the Middle East.
Venezuela and Iran have agreed to set up a US $200 million investment fund and Iran has agreed to build 10,000 homes in Venezuela. The two governments plan to set up factories to produce bricks, cement and bicycles, and Chavez says they will even manufacture cars together.
After Ahmadinejad's two-day visit, both leaders will head to New York for the UN General Assembly.