AFP: The United States called Monday on Iran to end its "horrible rhetoric" after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attacks on Israel but said it still wanted talks with Tehran to mend relations.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States called Monday on Iran to end its "horrible rhetoric" after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attacks on Israel but said it still wanted talks with Tehran to mend relations.
"We want to have a direct dialogue with Iran, but Iran needs to do a number of things to get back in the overall good graces of the international community," State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.
"If Iran wants a different relationship with the international community, it has to stop this horrible rhetoric," he said.
"This type of rhetoric is unhelpful, it's counter-productive and it just feeds racial hatred," Wood said. "This is not rhetoric that should be used in the 21st century."
Addressing a UN conference against racism, Ahmadinejad criticized the creation of a "totally racist government in occupied Palestine" in 1948, calling it "the most cruel and racist regime."
The remarks by Ahmadinejad — who has in the past denied the Holocaust — prompted 23 European Union delegations to walk out of the Geneva conference room in protest.
The United States and Israel were among countries which had already boycotted the meeting, refusing to attend at all due to its anticipated tone regarding the Jewish state.
US President Barack Obama has sought to repair relations with Iran, which turned from US ally to arch US foe after its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Obama sent an unprecedented video appeal last month to Iranians for their New Year, hoping to turn a new page in relations.
A US diplomat to the United Nations also denounced Ahmadinejad's remarks, calling his speech "shameful" and saying it was a disservice to the Iranian people.
"We call on the Iranian leadership to show much more measured, moderate, honest and constructive rhetoric when dealing with issues in the region and not this type of vile, hateful, inciteful speech that we all saw in the Ahmadinejad spectacle of this morning," said US Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Alejandro Wolff.
Ahmadinejad's rabble-rousing speech came one day after a potentially conciliatory gesture to the United States — calling for fair treatment for an Iranian-American reporter convicted of spying.
The hardline president said Roxana Saberi, a dual national, should be given the chance to defend herself.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier Monday called on Iran to swiftly free the 31-year-old journalist, voicing hope that Ahmadinejad's remarks would lead to action.