Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has returned to Tehran, after controversial remarks about Israel a U.N. anti-racism forum in Geneva on Monday that triggered a protest by Western diplomats.
Iranian government TV has reported the international press slammed President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's speech at a U.N. anti-racism conference in Geneva, before adding that he received a "delirious" welcome when he returned home.
Several hundred surround president's car
The Iranian broadcast showed what looked like several hundred supporters surrounding his vehicle, clapping and cheering as he defended his remarks in Geneva.
In remarks Monday to the Geneva conference, the Iranian president slammed Israel, referring to it repeatedly as an "oppressive Zionist regime."
Delegates from at least 30 countries walked out of the conference during the speech, and U.N. Secretary Ban Ki Moon condemned Mr. Ahmedinejad's remarks.
Iran's Foreign ministry: UN is biased
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi defended Mr. Ahmedinejad, calling the U.N. Secretary-General's statement "biased and in favor of Israel."
Iran's press painted a positive picture of the speech, with the official government daily "Iran" headlining "Cry for Justice in the Heart of Europe: Ahmedinejad Angers Western Racists."
Positive spin or setback?
Meir Javedanfar of the Tel Aviv-based MEEPAS analysis center thinks that Mr. Ahmedinejad's comments in Geneva were a disaster for Iranian foreign policy, as well as his political campaign for re-election this June.
"The report that there was a great crowd waiting for Ahmedinejad is greatly exaggerated," he said. "The group was not very big, it was not from what I saw numbering 100 or 200. President Ahmedinejad is trying to repair the damage the event caused to the election campaign. I think you saw the foreign policy failure, especially when all those Europeans walked out, and I think President Ahmedinejad is trying to improve his image by trying to say that the people of Iran agreed on his comments. That is why they came to greet him at the airport."
Exiled former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani Sadr went a step further, saying Mr. Ahmedinejad is trying to derail President Barack Obama's attempts to resume dialogue with Iran, as well to steal the limelight from his political opponents at home.
He says that the Iranian regime, especially the hard-liners within it, are in an embarrassing position with respect to President Obama's policy of opening a dialogue, and Ahmedinejad's speech in Geneva, as well as the Roxana Saberi trial and Iran's declaration that it will no longer negotiate over its nuclear program.
Bani Sadr says all are attempts to force Mr. Obama to abandon his policies towards Iran. He argues that domestically, Ahmedinejad is trying to create a political freeze, where other candidates cannot come out against him, drawing the limelight of the media, and making opponents take a back seat.