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White House Criticizes Iranian President Over Israel Comment


The White House is criticizing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for the destruction of Israel.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says President Ahmadinejad's comments underscore the Bush administration's concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions.

Iran says it is developing a nuclear program for peaceful civilian purposes. President Bush says he believes the country is secretly developing a nuclear weapons program.

President Ahmadinejad spoke at a conference in Tehran entitled, "The World Without Zionism." He said Israel should be wiped off the map as the Islamic world will not let its historic enemy live in its heartland.

President Ahmadinejad dismissed Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a trick meant to make Islamic states acknowledge Israel. Those that do, he said, will be forever disgraced.

After briefing President Bush on Iraq, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmy Khalilzad said Washington has a long list of concerns about Tehran, including its approach to Israel.

"Of course, we are opposed to Iranian policies with regard to Israel, we are opposed with regard to the nuclear policy, with regard to their support of terror, with regard to their negative policies in Iraq," he said.

France says it is summoning Iran's ambassador to Paris to the presidential palace to explain President Ahmadinejad's call for eliminating Israel. Germany says the comments are completely unacceptable.

France, Germany, and Britain are negotiating with Iran over its controversial nuclear program. President Bush wants Iran brought before the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it does not cooperate fully with more inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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