- Iran's hardline President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has stirred
up a diplomatic storm and risked further isolating his country by saying
that Israel should be "wiped off the map".
- Iran's refusal officially to recognise Israel's right
to exist is a major obstacle to improved relations between Tehran and the
West and has fuelled Israeli fears that the Islamic republic is bent on
building a nuclear bomb. Yesterday's diatribe - the first such outburst
in many years by an Iranian leader - will have done nothing to assuage
- Speaking to 4,000 radical students attending a conference
entitled "The World Without Zionism", the President was greeted
by chants of "Death to Israel".The former member of the fanatical
Revolutionary Guards told his audience that "leaders of the Muslim
nation who recognise Israel will burn in the flames of anger of their own
- "The Islamic world will not let its historic enemy
live in its heartland," he went on. Saying that he was voicing the
opinion of Iran's late spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the
new President went on to say that "Israel must be wiped off the map".
- Foreign leaders condemned the remarks. The Israeli Foreign
Minister, Sylvan Shalom, said they showed Iran was a "clear and present
danger". A Foreign Office spokesman said "the sickening comment
will only further heighten the concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions".