Image: NBC's Andrea Mitchell interviews Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Nightly News/NBC News
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday.
NBC News
updated 9/16/2010 1:53:17 PM ET 2010-09-16T17:53:17

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad renewed his long-simmering dispute with elected Palestinian leaders, contending in an interview with NBC News this week that Palestinian officials negotiating with Israel did not represent the Palestinian people.

Ahmadinejad told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday that it was fine for the Israeli and Palestinian governments to pursue their recently renewed talks in Washington and several Middle East capitals, but he dismissed them as “separate from the main Palestinian issue” and said they would have “no results.”

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    1. Ahmadinejad: Muslims 'not against Americans'
    2. Ahmadinejad: Iran justified in barring nuclear inspectors
    3. Ahmadinejad: Judge should decide fate of hikers
    4. Transcript: Full NBC interview with Iranian president
Ahmadinejad and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have feuded since 2007, when Iran backed the takeover of Gaza by the militant Palestinian group Hamas. The Palestinian government is divided, with Abbas leading the Palestinian National Authority from the West Bank and Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip.

Abbas is leading the negotiations with Israel, which Hamas rejects.

Ahmadinejad said earlier this month that the peace process was bound to fail and criticized some Muslim leaders for not providing all-out support to the Palestinians in their revolt against Israel.

“This method is not the right one,” he said Wednesday. “Let them talk, but we think that this is not the solution to the Palestinian issue.”

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Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to attend next week’s U.N. General Assembly session in New York, made his comments on the eve of the Arab League’s meeting in Cairo amid indications that the talks could be unraveling.

Palestinian negotiators are threatening to leave the talks if Israeli settlement building resumes in the West Bank after a moratorium expires Sept 30. The settlements are on territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East war and are deemed by the World Court to be illegal under international law, a finding disputed by Israel.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the peace talks were taking place in a “suspicious and worrying” environment and said the League was watching the situation in the Palestinian territories as the moratorium nears its ends.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Ahmadinejad: ‘Zionists’ roiling Islamic center

  1. Transcript of: Ahmadinejad: ‘Zionists’ roiling Islamic center

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Now to Iran and an NBC News exclusive. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is speaking out about the release of American hiker Sarah Shourd and the fate of her two companions who are still being jailed in that country. NBC 's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell sat down with him on Wednesday. She's in Tehran with the latest on this. Andrea , good morning to you.

    ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: Well, good morning, Matt. The -- Iran 's president pressed hard for the release of Sarah Shourd partly as a gesture to America just before he travels to New York for next week's UN meetings. But on all other subjects he was confrontational.

    MITCHELL: Thank you, Mr. President. Iran 's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is taking credit for Sarah Shourd 's release, but said the fate of her fiance, Shane Bauer , and their friend, Josh Fattal , both still in jail, is not up to him.

    President MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: I think we should let the judge and the courts decide about the case and I think that this is the greatest help to all of them.

    MITCHELL: One suggestion from the State Department spokesman on Twitter , he tweeted that you could take the two men on your airplane to New York when you go to the United Nations . What's your response to that?

    Pres. AHMADINEJAD: That was a good proposal. If they had not violated our border, they would have been at their homes for over a year, for one -- for more than a year.

    MITCHELL: Iran's government has been encouraging protests in Tehran , trying to exploit anger against the US because of threats to burn the Quran and the controversy over the proposed Islamic cultural center near ground zero. President Ahmadinejad , who has denied the Holocaust , blames all this on what he calls a Zionist conspiracy.

    Pres. AHMADINEJAD: We believe that there's a minority in the United States and they are Zionists . They have no religion. They believe in no religion.

    MITCHELL: There are Jewish leaders working with Muslim leaders to build the cultural center in New York City . So there's no evidence of any elite, what you call Zionist groups against it. In fact, Fidel Castro ...

    Pres. AHMADINEJAD: That's certainly right.

    MITCHELL: ... Fidel Castro , your old friend, Fidel Castro , criticized you for your comments about Israel and the Holocaust .

    Pres. AHMADINEJAD: I think you should allow me to talk, to speak.

    MITCHELL: Excuse me.

    Pres. AHMADINEJAD: I think you should finish first and then you should let me explain.

    MITCHELL: Speak.

    Pres. AHMADINEJAD: What you see in Islam -- Islamic countries is what the people are against, that ugly behavior. They are not against the people of the United States . They are not against Americans.

    MITCHELL: We see no evidence that there is any such Zionist conspiracy. President Ahmadinejad was equally combative about the UN 's nuclear agency, the IAEA , which sharply rebuked Iran this week for denying access to the two leading experts on the weapons inspection team.

    Pres. AHMADINEJAD: But they are under the pressures of the United States and the allies and they expressed political views. So this is not a technical approach, a illegal approach towards the question. And it is part of the hostility of the United States against our people.

    MITCHELL: With all due respect, Mr. President, if there's nothing to hide, if this is a peaceful nuclear program , as Iran says, why not let all the inspectors who know the scientific and technical details -- so why not let them in if it's a peaceful program?

    Pres. AHMADINEJAD: Can't they go beyond the law? We say that it is against the procedures and we have evidence and the evidence is there, in the IAEA .

    MITCHELL: So Iran 's president is showing no sign of compromise on that nuclear standoff, even as he heads to the United Nations , and the world powers

    unite against him. Matt: All right, Andrea Mitchell in Tehran for us this morning. Andrea , thanks very much, as always. It's 7:09. Once again, here's Meredith .



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