ROME – Shunned by his hosts and targeted by street demonstrations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday used a U.N. conference to condemn Israel and the United States again as bellicose regimes on the brink of demise.
Ahmadinejad wasted no time in making his mark on the United Nations food summit, where world leaders gathered to tackle the crisis of global hunger. He told the summit that food and fuel prices are kept artificially high by greedy powers with “devilish motivations” who should be replaced with “righteous and justice-seeking managers.”
The U.N. itself also came in for the Iranian leader’s criticism. He said the world body’s power was undermined because the Security Council was controlled by countries with “ceaseless avarice and unappeasable appetite.”
And at a long, packed news conference, Ahmadinejad, for the second time in as many days, reiterated his conviction that Israel, because of its treatment of the Palestinians, will disappear from the world map – a “fabricated entity … doomed to go.”
He put the United States in a similar bag, saying the “myth of its invincibility is being shattered.” Washington is determined to attack Iran, he said, calling the U.S. “eager for war.”
Ahmadinejad arrived in Rome earlier Tuesday aboard an Islamic Republic of Iran jetliner and was flanked at all times by a cordon of security guards. The U.S. and several European delegations said they would not meet with him, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pointedly excluded him from Tuesday’s gala state dinner.
Outside the summit, members of Rome’s Jewish community marched from the historic ghetto to the ancient Roman Colosseum protesting Ahmadinejad’s visit.
At nearby City Hall, Jewish groups were joined by Italian politicians of all political stripes and Iranian exiles.