Ahmadinejad says Obama should have attended UN racism conference

Ahmadinejad says Obama should have attended UN racism conference Tehran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjed said Wednesday he had expected his US counterpart, Barack Obama, would have attended the UN racism conference in Geneva in order to prove his willingness to change American policy.

"The new US president, who claims to want change, should have come to Geneva and voiced his opposition to any form of racism," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in Varamin, south-east of the capital Tehran.

US President Obama said Tuesday Ahmadinejad's remarks against Israel at the UN racism conference were "appalling and objectionable," and damaging to the prospects of better relations with the United States.

"Instead of condemning my speech, he should have come and showed in practice that the US policies have changed, at least regarding racism," Ahmadinejad added in the speech which was broadcast live on Khabar news network.

During a meeting Tuesday with Jordanian King Abdullah, Obama responded to Ahmadinejad's comments after the Iranian president called Israel a "racist regime" created "under the pretext of Jewish suffering."

"Sadly, the rhetoric is not new," Obama said. "This is the kind of rhetoric that we've come to expect from President Ahmadinejad."

Ahmadinejad rejected Obama's critics and referred to the caricatures of Moslem prophet Mohammed which Iran and the Islamic world condemned as an insult to over one billion Moslems.

"When we at that time protested against the caricatures of our prophet, they (the West) said you should be tolerant in the name of freedom of expression," the Iranian president said.

"But the same people who claim to defend freedom of expression do not even tolerate a twenty-minute speech (at the UN conference)," he added.

Ahmadinejad claimed that Israel and the West planned to prevent his speech at the UN conference by sending "clowns" as protestors and later sending out their delegates from the hall.

"But such methods can neither stop the truth being said nor harm Iran," the Iranian president said.

Despite the quarrel at the UN conference, Iran and the US have agreed to resume talks over the controversial Iranian nuclear programme, together with the other four United Nations Security Council member states and Germany. (dpa)