'Iran is a friend of the Israeli people'

Ahmadinejad comes under fire from his gov't after a close aide makes seemingly pro-Israel comments.

September 9, 2008 17:16
'Iran is a friend of the Israeli people'

Ahmadinejad cuckoo 224.88. (photo credit: AP)


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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came under pressure from his government about pro-Israel comments made by one of his aides, The Financial Times reported Tuesday. According to the report, parliamentarians demanded that Ahmadinejad explain why Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, vice-president for tourism affairs, said that Iran was "a friend of the Israeli people." In an apparent attempt to explain himself and reverse the effect of his words, Mashaei was quoted by The Financial Times as telling the politicians "I say 'death to Israel' a thousand times." Meanwhile, Teheran's former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani said that Ahmadinejad's policies have done more harm than good in his three years in office, adding that the hard-line leader missed out on "golden" opportunities to develop the Persian state. Speaking to a meeting of the Moderation and Development Party on Monday, Rowani singled out Iran's high inflation - a fact despite huge oil revenues. He said Ahmadinejad failed to privatize the economy as required under the constitution and didn't use opportunities at the international level to improve Iran's global standing.

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