Iran official professes friendship to Israelis

TEHRAN Sun Jul 20, 2008 8:13pm IST

Related Topics

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran may be Israel's sworn enemy but a senior official said the Islamic Republic was nevertheless friendly to the Jewish state's people, a news agency reported.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has branded Israel a "stinking corpse" and predicts its imminent demise, but one of his deputies struck a more conciliatory note on Saturday.

Esfandiyar Rahim Masha'i, a vice-president in charge of tourism and cultural affairs, also reached out to people in the United States, Iran's other arch foe, in his speech.

"Today Iran is friendly with the peoples of America and Israel," he told a tourism fair in Tehran, the Fars News Agency reported.

Iranian officials often distinguish between the governments and peoples of the countries with which it differs, but such comments are rarely heard when it comes to Israel. Iran does not give visas to visitors if their passport has an Israeli stamp.

"No people in the world is our enemy and this is a source of pride," said Rahim-Masha'i. "We regard the people of America to be of highest ranking in the world."

His comments come at a time of tension between Iran and the West over its nuclear programme, sparking speculation of a military confrontation. Israel has vowed not to let Iran get an atomic bomb and has staged an air drill, raising speculation it was preparing for an attack.

The United States has also said it would not rule out strikes if diplomacy fails to end the row over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran says it only aims to generate electricity and has warned it will hit back hard if attacked by anyone.

Opposition to Israel is a fundamental principle in Shi'ite Muslim Iran, which backs Palestinian militants opposed to peace with the Jewish state.

A 2005 statement by Ahmadinejad saying that "Israel should be wiped off the map" outraged the international community.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Korean Boat Tragedy

Family members of a missing passenger onboard the South Korean ferry Sewol which capsized on Wednesday, look at the sea as they wait for news from a rescue team, at a port in Jindo April 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Sunken Korea ferry relatives give DNA swabs to help identify dead

Relatives of some of the more than 200 children missing in a sunken South Korean ferry offered DNA swabs on Saturday to help identify the dead as a rescue turned into a mission to recover the vessel and the bodies of those on board.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ferry Disaster

Ferry Disaster

Vice-principal of South Korea school in ferry disaster commits suicide.  Full Article 

Everest Avalanche

Everest Avalanche

Avalanche kills 12 guides in deadliest incident on Mount Everest.  Full Article 

Turkey Politics

Turkey Politics

Turkish president rules out role swap with Erdogan.  Full Article 

Mexico Earthquake

Mexico Earthquake

Powerful earthquake rattles Mexico, shakes buildings.  Full Article 

Missing Plane

Missing Plane

Drone risks damage at record depth in search for Malaysian plane.  Full Article 

Papal Message

Papal Message

Pope Good Friday service underscores plight of the suffering.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage