Iranian president urges Americans to demand withdrawal of troops from Iraq

Thursday, November 30, 2006

UNITED NATIONS -- Iran's president urged the American people in an open letter Wednesday to demand the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and reject what he called the Bush administration's "blind support" for Israel and its "illegal and immoral" actions in fighting terrorism.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to "Noble Americans," which was distributed by Iran's mission to the United Nations, also accused Bush of governing by "coercion, force and injustice."

Ahmadinejad appealed to the American people to work to reverse the U.S. leader's policies, and called on the Bush administration and the new Democratic-controlled Congress to heed the results of the recent midterm elections.

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey called the letter "something of a public relations stunt or a public relations gesture" by the Iranian government, and said it was a shame Ahmadinejad did not allow people in his own country the opportunity to have a free and open debate of political ideas and views.

Ahmadinejad has alienated many Americans by calling for Israel's destruction and repeatedly dismissing the Nazi Holocaust as a myth. He also strongly supports the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the Lebanese faction Hezbollah, which the United States considers terrorist organizations.

No diplomatic relations

Iran and the United States have had no diplomatic relations since 1979 when militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and kept 52 people hostage for 444 days.

Ahmadinejad wrote a rambling, 18-page letter to Bush in May, lambasting the U.S. leader for his handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and accusing the media of spreading lies about the Iraq war.

Washington dismissed the letter for also not addressing Iran's nuclear program.

Wednesday's letter also makes no mention of Iran's disputed nuclear program, which the U.S. alleges is geared toward secretly developing atomic weapons. The U.S. is leading the drive to impose U.N. sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

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