Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his nation has no interest in attacking Israel and reached out to Egypt with an offer of aid amid that nation’s economic troubles, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported today.
Ahmadinejad, who arrived yesterday in Cairo for an Islamic summit in a trip marking the first to Egypt by an Iranian leader since 1979, said “Zionists,” his standard reference to Israel, “very much want to strike Iran, and we haven’t until now given, and will not give, them this chance,” the newspaper cited him as saying. “They are well aware of our Iranian defensive capabilities.”
The Iranian president said his nation had now become a state with nuclear technology despite western nations’ best efforts to prevent that, according to al-Ahram. Iran is under international sanctions for its nuclear program, an effort which the United States and its allies maintain is aimed at developing weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.
Ahmadinejad said Iran’s economy is able to withstand the impact of the sanctions regime currently in place, arguing the nation’s domestic production will take the place of imports, al-Ahram reported.
Reaching out to Egypt, a traditional rival under President Mohamed Mursi’s predecessors, Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready to offer aid and stressed that cooperation between the two countries was key to cementing their strength in the world, the newspaper reported.
While Egyptian-Iranian relations have thawed slightly since Mursi’s June election, the Arab state’s foreign minister said earlier that a full normalization of ties would be left to circumstances and the Iranian president was in Cairo, like other leaders, for an Islamic summit that started today.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tarek El-Tablawy in Cairo at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at email@example.com