UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the film "Innocence of Muslims" in a wide-ranging interview on CNN.
On "Piers Morgan Tonight" Monday, Ahmadinejad condemned the film causing protest and widespread violence throughout the Middle East, saying, "Any action that is provocative, offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people, we condemn," adding, "Likewise we condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place is ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom or freedom of speech," adding his fear that "extremism gives birth to following and subsequent extremists."
The film was produced in the Los Angeles area.
Speaking in New York prior to his visit to the U.N. General Assembly, Ahmadinejad stressed his country's right to defend itself from attack, a reference to a possible strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities, and repeated his opposition to homosexuality, calling it " an ugly behavior."
He also told The Washington Post his country was willing to help negotiate an end to fighting in Syria and Afghanistan.
"We, generally speaking, do not take very seriously the issue of the Zionists and the possible dangers emanating from them," he said in the interview published Sunday. "Of course, they would love to find a way for their own salvation by making a lot of noise and to raise stakes in order to save themselves. But I do not believe they will succeed."
Ahmadinejad said he thought Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was bluffing when he threatened to launch a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Iran is ready to address international negotiators' concerns on limiting the Islamic Republic's enriched uranium, Ahmadinejad said.
He suggested the United States may be slow-walking talks until after its November elections.
"We have always been ready and we are ready," he said of addressing the international community's concerns that Iran was marching toward becoming capable of nuclear weapons development.
"But experience has shown that important and key decisions are not made in the U.S. leading up to national elections," Ahmadinejad said.
"I do believe that some conversations and key issues must be talked about again once we come out of the other end of the political election atmosphere in the United States," he said.
"We do believe that free elections and self-determination is the right of all nations, and that the people must rule their own destiny. Vis-a-vis Syria, this is our viewpoint," the Iranian president said. "I do hope that a contact group can be set up as soon as possible so as to establish stability with a national understanding and agreement to hold elections. Whatever the people of the nation choose must rule that nation. And, of course,the foreign interventions and meddling must come to a stop."
Asked if Syrian President Bashar Assad should be allowed to run in any new election, Ahmadinejad said "peace and mutual understanding must be turned into national decision-making processes. I do believe that all nations can play key roles. We're all hurt by the current conditions on the ground in Syria."
Concerning Afghanistan, Ahmadinejad said he believes "that any nation that can help stability independence and progress in Afghanistan is obliged do so, particularly the neighbors and friends of Afghanistan. We have always been ready to do so."
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