Iran: US policy must 'profoundly change'

Ahmadinejad: Change means ending support for the "Zionists;" says US must apologize for past actions.

ahmadinejad 248.88 (photo credit: )
ahmadinejad 248.88
(photo credit: )
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Wednesday for "profound changes" in US foreign policy - including an end to support for Israel and an apology to the Islamic republic for past misdeeds. Ahmadinejad also urged Washington to withdraw its troops stationed around the world. He said Iran would be closely watching what President Barack Obama's new administration does and would welcome a real shift in its approach. "Change means giving up support for the rootless, uncivilized, fabricated, murdering ... Zionists and letting the Palestinian nation decide its own destiny," Ahmadinejad said. "Change means putting an end to US military presence in (different parts of) the world." His comments come as Obama was reaching out to Muslims. The new US president has stressed the importance of engaging Iran. In his inaugural address, Obama addressed leaders of hostile nations by saying "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." Without mentioning Obama by name, Ahmadinejad repeatedly referred to those who want "change," a buzzword of Obama's election campaign. "When they say 'we want to bring changes', change may happen in two ways: First is profound, fundamental and effective change ... the second ... is a change of tactics," he told thousands of people in the western city of Kermanshah in a speech broadcast live on state television. "We will wait patiently, listen to their words carefully, scrutinize their actions under a magnifier and if change happens truly and fundamentally, we will welcome that," he added. "The change will be to apologize to the Iranian nation and try to compensate for their dark records and the crimes they have committed against the Iranian nation." Ahmadinejad cited the US-backed coup that toppled the elected government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadegh in 1953, its support of the unpopular shah, its backing of Saddam Hussein during Iraq's war with Iran in the 1980s and the downing of an Iranian airliner in 1988 by a US naval ship. In an interview with Al-Arabiya news channel that aired Tuesday, Obama condemned Iran's threats to destroy Israel and its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, but added: "It is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress." Later Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters the US administration is undertaking a wide-ranging and comprehensive assessment of American foreign policy options toward Iran. Clinton also said Iran had a "clear opportunity" to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community. Washington is at odds with Iran over its nuclear ambitions and its threats to destroy Israel as well as Teheran's support for Hizbullah in and Hamas. The US broke off diplomatic relations with Iran after hardline students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979.