Iran urges cutting of ties with U.S. and Israel

Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:27am EST

DUBAI Jan 16 (Reuters) - Muslim states should cut all ties with Israel and the United States to help bring about an end to the Israeli offensive against Gaza, Iran's president said in an interview on Al Jazeera television on Friday.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is attending an emergency meeting of Arab and Muslim leaders in Qatar, said Israel's three-week-old offensive proved that the Jewish state was in its last throes.

Muslim nations "need to cut relations with Israel and America. Just ties. They don't need to do anything more than that," Ahmadinejad said, according to an Arabic translation of his comments.

The Syrian president and the leader of Hamas also called on Arab states on Friday to cut all ties with Israel.

Muslim and Arab officials meeting in Doha are discussing the suspension of ties with Israel and the possibility of withdrawing an Arab peace initiative with Israel. Qatar had hoped for a full-blown Arab Summit on Gaza but faced resistance from regional heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia and fell short of the quorum necessary to make formal resolutions. Any withdrawal of the Arab peace initiative would require a summit.

Arab foreign ministers are also meeting in Kuwait on Friday to discuss the offensive on Gaza.

The meetings come amid a public tug-of-war among Arab states over whether, where and when to hold an emergency summit on Gaza, where the death toll after three weeks of fighting has exceeded 1,100.

"What we see in Gaza is a clear indication that the Zionist entity is on the cusp of disappearing," Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad said Iran was not providing weapons to Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

"We provide the Palestinian resistance open help ... we provide them with humanitarian, political and spiritual assistance," he said.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Mark Trevelyan)




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