Ahmadinejad: Iran not a threat, but an 'opportunity' for Obama
In interview with AP, Iranian leader also says not interested in debating historical details of Holocaust.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that his country was not a threat to the United States as President Barack Obama has said, but "an opportunity."
In an interview with The Associated Press, Ahmadinejad said he expects open discussion of nuclear issues at a planned meeting with officials from the U.S. and five other powers.
The Iranian leader made clear, however, that Iran was not interested in discussing pressure to restrain its contentious nuclear program, which he again said was not intended to produce nuclear weapons.
The October 1 meeting with the U.S., China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain is to be the first of its kind since President Barack Obama took office.
Ahmadinejad said Iran would push for international nuclear disarmament and expanded opportunities for all countries - including his own - to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
The Iranian leader refused to give an explicit opinion of his American counterpart. "Is this a question to test my IQ?" he said in response.
He did say that Obama must make "big changes" in policy toward Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Middle East, and that Obama would find a friend in Iran if he does so.
"I hope that Mr. Obama will move in the direction of change, Ahmadinejad said. At another point he said, "The sources of insecurity around the world need to be discussed."
The U.S. president intends to leave the General Assenbly plenum hall this week when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks. The latter, judging by his addresses to two previous UN assemblies, is expected to accuse Israel of a "continuous aggressive policy intended to destroy the Palestinian people."
During his interview with AP, Ahmadinejad also muted his remarks on the Holocaust, an event he has frequently questioned as a matter of historical fact.
Using markedly less confrontational language than he has in the past, Ahmadinejad told the AP he was not interested in debating historical details.
Instead, he said, he wants to focus on what he calls the wrong done to Palestinians who lost their land when the state of Israel was formed. Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a pretext for the repression of Palestinians.
He grouped the deliberate murders of 6 million Jews during World War II with those of millions of others who died.