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Ahmadinejad Invites Japan to Prepare for a World Without the US
June 05, 2008 CNSNews.com International Editor By Patrick Goodenough
http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus/archive/200806/FOR20080605c.html

 
(CNSNews.com) – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been making headlines during his first visit to Western Europe as Iran’s president by attacking the United States and Israel, but he also is trying to use the opportunity to show that he’s not as isolated as his opponents would wish.
 
Ahmadinejad failed to secure meetings with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Pope while in Rome for a U.N. food conference that ends Thursday, but he did meet with the prime minister of Japan for half an hour.
 
Japan and Iran last held a leaders’ summit eight years ago, when President Mohammed Khatami, generally regarded as a moderate, was in office.
 
Since Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005, Tehran’s lengthy dispute with the international community over its nuclear program has deepened, while the controversial president has caused outrage with comments calling for Israel’s demise and questioning the Holocaust.
 
Given the U.S.-led efforts to isolate Tehran over the nuclear issue, Ahmadinejad will likely view his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda as a diplomatic coup. Japan is a close U.S. ally, which next month hosts the annual Group of Eight leaders’ summit.
 
Fukuda’s spokesman, Kasuo Kodama, said the prime minister had urged Ahmadinejad to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions on halting uranium enrichment.
 
The official Iranian news agency, Irna, had a different take on the encounter, saying Ahmadinejad had told Fukuda that U.S. domination was in decline. “Iran and Japan as two civilized and influential nations should get ready for a world minus the U.S.,” he said.
 
Ahmadinejad said “enemies” did not want Iran and Japan to work together, but it was time for the two countries to plan for long-term cooperation.
 
He invited Fukuda to join Iran in developing “peaceful” nuclear energy programs, and said Tehran-Tokyo cooperation could expand in other fields too.
 
Iran is an important oil supplier for energy-hungry Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, but attempts to deepen energy cooperation have run into strong U.S. opposition.
 
A Japanese company had planned to help develop Iran’s Azadegan oilfields, one of the world’s largest untapped oil reserves, but in 2006 Iran cut its share in the $2 billion venture from 75 percent to 10 percent, complaining that Japan was delaying the project, reportedly because of U.S. objections.
 
Earlier that year, the then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, told Japan’s Kyodo news agency that Tokyo should rethink the Azadegan investment because it could help Iran avert sanctions related to its nuclear activities. Since then, the Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
 
Ahmadinejad’s meeting with Fukuda came on the sidelines of the conference on the global food crisis, held at the Rome headquarters of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
 
He used the visit to the Italian capital to lash out at his usual targets, calling Israel an “artificial regime” that is “doomed” and declaring that the “myth of [American] invincibility is being shattered.”
 
The visit has been controversial, drawing protests from Italian politicians, members of the Jewish community and Iranian exiles.
 
Ahmadinejad was not invited to a state dinner hosted by Berlusconi and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday
 
Late last week, Iranian media reported that the president had requested a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI while in Rome. Amid press speculation that an audience had been refused, the Vatican issued a statement saying the pontiff was unable to respond positively to requests for audiences with any of the visiting leaders.
 
 

 

 


 

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