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Ahmadinejad slams NATO, denounces U.S. pressure in Middle East

By the CNN Wire Staff
October 22, 2011 -- Updated 1116 GMT (1916 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ahmadinejad says the independence and sovereignty of all nations should be respected
  • He criticizes the U.S. government and says it should keep out of regional affairs, such as Syria
  • The United States has accused Iran of involvement in a plot to kill a Saudi ambassador
  • Ahmadinejad dismisses the claim, as well as accusations that it has misled an international atomic agency

Tehran (CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday slammed NATO's role in Libya and said the United States -- and all other countries -- should stay out of the conflict in Syria.

"We think it is the will of the people that should work and prevail everywhere. Justice, freedom and respect to people -- this is the right of all nations," he said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

Ahmadinejad said his views on Libya were "not different" following the death Thursday of ousted Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. He said NATO's military campaign exacerbated the conflict and undermined the sovereignty of the nation.

Ahmadinejad also took aim at the United States, saying the country is "hated" in the Middle East and should keep out of regional affairs, such as in Syria, where a brutal government crackdown on protesters has drawn international ire.

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"We should respect independence and sovereignty of all nations everywhere in the world," he said. "We condemn killings and massacre. ... Justice dictates that nobody should kill the other. Nobody has the right to kill others -- neither the government nor the opponents. ... We are going to make greater efforts to encourage both the government of Syria and the other side and all parties to reach an understanding. There should be no interference from outside."

Syria is widely considered Iran's closest ally in the Middle East. Leaders in both countries have been criticized for brutally repressing democratic reform movements at home while supporting violent Islamic extremism abroad.

Blog: Ahmadinejad on Gadhafi, Syria, alleged plot, nuclear weapons and America's role

Ahmadinejad said the United States should realize the "era of colonialism is over" and review its policies, especially when it comes to pressuring the Middle East.

"We have no problems with the people of the United States. We love them," he said, adding that his problem is with the government.

"The United States has become weaker and weaker. And now, they are hated in the region," Ahmadinejad said. The Middle East "should not be influenced by the pressures of the United States."

The outspoken Ahmadinejad has long been a lightning rod for Iran's critics.

U.S. authorities have accused Iran of being involved in a plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, in spring 2012.

The alleged scheme involved a connection to the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. A 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen and an Iran-based member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are accused of conspiring to hire hit men from a Mexican drug cartel to bomb a restaurant, where the ambassador would have been.

In his interview Saturday, Ahmadinejad dismissed the United States' claim of Iranian involvement.

Ahmadinejad dismisses assassination plot
Ahmadinejad: 'We condemn killing'

"Do we need really to kill the ambassador of a brotherly country? What is the reason and the interest behind that?" he said. "We never have any intention to hurt Saudi Arabia. Do we really want to do it in the United States? And is that the way, really?"

Ahmadinejad also criticized the United States' military strategies.

In light of U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement Friday that all American troops would be out of Iraq by the end of the year, Ahmadinejad said they should have left sooner.

"The Iraqi government is independent and sovereign. They should decide how to provide training for their military personnel," Ahmadinejad said.

Asked whether Iran's involvement with Iraq will increase because of the American withdrawal, Ahmadinejad said there would be no changes.

Ahmadinejad also addressed accusations that Iran has misled the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency has said Iran was not providing enough details for it to conclude it is engaged in only peaceful nuclear activities.

Ahmadinejad called such claims "lies."

"The era of nuclear bombs is over," he said as he questioned the credibility of the agency.

Ahmadinejad's stances on conflicts mirror his speech last month at the U.N. General Assembly.

Delegations from the United States and several European nations, including France and the United Kingdom, walked out during his speech, in which he repeatedly condemned the United States and said some countries use the Holocaust as an "excuse to pay ransom ... to Zionists."

In his remarks, Ahmadinejad called the September 11, 2001, attacks "mysterious" and said they were a pretext for a U.S.-led war against Afghanistan and Iraq.

He said the United States killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden instead of assigning a fact-finding team to investigate "hidden elements involved in September 11."

He also blamed the United States for numerous global problems, including the financial crisis, and criticized it for overspending on the military and "printing trillions of dollars" that triggered inflation, according to a translation of his speech provided by the U.N.

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