U.S. President Barack Obama said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denunciation of Israel undermines Iran's position in the world.

Speaking in Washington Tuesday, Mr. Obama said the Iranian leader's comments prompted many people who might have been sympathetic to Iran on other issues to walk out in protest as he addressed a U.N. conference Monday in Geneva.

During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad called Israel a "most cruel and repressive racist regime."

Mr. Obama added that he has found many of the Iranian president's remarks about Israel appalling, but noted that Iran has a lot of centers of power.  He said Washington will continue to pursue the possibility of improved relations with Tehran.

Washington and Tehran have had no formal ties since shortly after the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago.

Tense rhetoric between Iran and Israel continued Tuesday, with the speaker of Iran's parliament warning Israel against taking military action against its nuclear facilities.

Speaking at a Tehran conference of prosecutors from Islamic nations, Ali Larijani said any country that carried out such an attack would, as he put it, no longer be able to sleep easily.

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had indicated they would be willing to strike Iran's nuclear facilities if international efforts to stop Tehran's nuclear activities fail.  Mr. Peres later said there was no military solution to the threat.

Israel considers Iran's nuclear program a threat to its existence, while Tehran insists it is for purely civilian, peaceful ends. 



Some information for this report was provided by AP.