U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said in an interview with the media group BBC Persian that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were “hateful” and “inexcusable,” according to excerpts of the remarks.
Ahmadinejad said Thursday before the United Nations in New York city that most people believe the U.S. orchestrated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. His comments prompted U.S. and European officials to leave the U.N. general assembly.
“For him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of Ground Zero, where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation, for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable,” Obama told BBC Persian in an interview Friday.
The full interview is expected to air Friday evening.
Ahmadinejad has been known to make long, provocative statements against the U.S. and Israel, which he refers to as the Zionist regime. The Iranian leader’s comments came just a few hours after Obama reiterated a call for peace in the Middle East and said he was willing to find a diplomatic solution to concerns that Iran was building nuclear weapons for defense purposes.
While the U.S. views Ahmadinejad’s comments as outrageous, U.S. officials said a diplomatic solution is still possible if Iran takes concrete steps to show the international community that its nuclear weapons are for peaceful purposes.
The U.S., as well as other countries, this year initiated tough sanctions against Iran. U.S. officials say the sanctions have hampered Ahmadinejad’s popularity among Iranians.
Obama decided to sit down for an interview with BBC Persian to underscore that it’s Iran leaders that continue to isolate the country, a senior Obama administration official said Friday.