Iranian President Ahmadinejad arrive in Cuba 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Alejandro Ernesto/Pool)
HAVANA - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flashed the victory sign and said Iran had done nothing to warrant enmity from its enemies after he arrived in Cuba on Wednesday amid heightened international tensions.
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He said nothing about the bomb attack that killed an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran earlier in the day, which his government blamed on Israel and the United States, the leaders of international opposition to Iran's nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad was to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro later, but shortly after arrival in the Cuban capital he told students in veiled remarks at the University of Havana that Iran was being "punished" for no good reason.
"Have we assaulted someone? Have we wanted more than we should have?
Never, never. We have only asked to speak about and establish justice,"
Earlier, he declined to comment upon landing at Havana's Jose Marti
International Airport, where he smiled and flashed the victory sign
several times at reporters as he was met by Esteban Lazo, one of Cuba's
Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, in charge while Ahmadinejad
travels, told Iranian state television "this terrorist act was carried
out by agents of the Zionist regime (Israel) and by those who claim to
be combating terrorism (the United States) with the aim of stopping our
scientists from serving" Iran.
He said Iran's nuclear program would go on.
The White House denied any U.S. role in the car bomb attack and Israel
has declined to comment. But the controversy overshadowed the display of
Iran's ties with Cuba, which is just 90 miles (145 km) from the United
States, its longtime ideological foe.
Before his speech, the University of Havana awarded Ahmadinejad an
honorary doctorate in political science, saying he had strengthened
relations with Cuba and other Latin American countries and "valiantly
defended the right of his people to self-determination" in the face of
It was not yet known if Ahmadinejad would visit former Cuban leader
Fidel Castro, who is now mostly retired at age 85 but still meets
occasionally with visiting foreign leaders.
He was to leave early Thursday morning en route to Ecuador, the final stop of his trip.