NASHVILLE, Tenn. - U.S. President George W. Bush vowed that the United States will rise to Israel's defense if needed against Iran, and denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for "menacing talk" against Israel.
"I am concerned about a person that, one, tries to rewrite the history of the Holocaust, and two, has made it clear that his intentions are to destroy Israel," Bush said, in a Reuters interview aboard Air Force One en route to Nashville.
"Israel is a solid ally of the U.S., we will rise to Israel's defense if need be. So this kind of menacing talk is disturbing. It's not only disturbing to the United States, it's disturbing for other countries in the world as well," he added.
Asked if he meant the United States would rise to Israel's defense militarily, Bush said: "You bet, we'll defend Israel."
Ahmadinejad has prompted international condemnation for anti-Israel rhetoric in recent weeks, including saying it should be wiped off the map, and calling into question the Holocaust.
Bush also said he saw a "very good chance" that the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency will refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
During the interview, Bush also commented on Hamas recent electoral victory in the Palestinian election, saying it must change its platform, its attitude toward Israel and get rid of its armed group for the United States to support a Palestinian government run by Hamas. "In order for the United States to support a Palestinian government run by Hamas, Hamas must change its party platform and change its way of thinking and get rid of this armed group, as well as change its attitude toward Israel," Bush said.
Hamas remained defiant despite mounting world pressure a week after its win in Palestinian elections.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas's parliamentary slate, rejected Bush's latest call for the group to disarm, and condemned Israel's suspension of monthly tax payments to the cash-strapped PA.
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