Ahmadinejad in new Israel tirade before Turkey trip

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (bottom) looks on as he waits for his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Tehran August 11, 2008. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a fresh verbal attack on Israel on Wednesday on the eve of a visit to Israel’s close ally Turkey, saying Western countries should not support the Jewish state.

The comments highlight the difficult path which Turkey, a member of NATO, must follow during the two-day visit which reflects its desire to remain on good terms with its neighbor and secure future energy needs.

“Western countries should not support them (Israel) so much. The life of this regime has come to an end,” Ahmadinejad said in comments translated into Turkish in a live interview broadcast by Turkey’s NTV and CNN Turk channels.

“Our position is clear on this issue. A referendum should take place in Palestine. If they withdraw from invaded lands it would be a good step,” he said.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have come under criticism at home and abroad for inviting Ahmadinejad.

Ankara has said his visit was necessary given a standoff between Iran and the West over Tehran’s disputed nuclear enrichment program, but analysts said the visit was more about ensuring centuries-old ties during a period of global tensions.

Ahmadinejad said the talks on Iran’s nuclear program were on a “good path”.

Reporting by Daren Butler; editing by Robert Hart