September 21, 2008 / 12:51 PM / 10 years ago

Iran criticizes Italian PM's comment on president

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was “absurd” to accuse the Iranian president of acting like a lunatic in relation to Israel, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.

Berlusconi told a Jewish organization in Paris on Tuesday, in reference to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that “we must pay the utmost attention to the lunacy of someone who says, perhaps for internal reasons, that Israel must be wiped off the map”.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi described the Italian premier’s comments late on Saturday as “absurd”, Mehr News Agency reported.

“(Berlusconi) has made such comments in the past, and they lack any logic and the high values of the Italian people and culture,” Qashqavi said.

He also criticized Berlusconi for “defending the Zionist criminals whose hands bear the blood of thousands of Palestinian children, women and people”.

A 2005 statement by Ahmadinejad saying that Israel must be “wiped off the map” caused outrage in the West and Israel.

The Iranian leader has since made predictions Israel would “disappear”. Earlier this year he also said that Israel would vanish with or without the involvement of Tehran.

Asked in an interview on Thursday with Iran’s state-run English-language Press TV satellite channel if his 2005 statement meant Iran would wipe Israel off the map, Ahmadinejad replied:

“No. We say that the people of Palestine should have rights and when the people of Palestine exercise this right, this will happen. Where is the Soviet Union? The Soviet Union has been wiped off the map.”

Ahmadinejad’s comments were translated by Press TV.

Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian and Edmund Blair; Editing by Mariam Karouny

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