Israeli president slams Iranian leader as "very negative" on Spain visit

Date: 06-28-05

MADRID (AFP) - Israeli President Moshe Katsav used the second day of a four-day official visit to Spain to blast Iran's ultra conservative president-elect Mahmood Ahmadinejad as "very negative" and a threat to the Jewish state as well as Europe.

"I believe the approach of the new president is very negative," said Katsav.

"The threat is not just on Israel. Iran is trying to develop long range missiles of 2,000 to 3,000 kilometres (1,240 to 1,860 miles). It's a big threat to Europe too," Katsav told a news conference.

"In Iran the combination of three elements make the situation a very big danger. First, it's a non-democratic country. Second, the cooperation between Iran and international terrorism," he said.

If Iran (additionally) will achieve nuclear knowledge, the combination of this would be a "disaster for the peace and the stability in the world", he added.

"I believe if the free world shows determination Iran will stop its effort to achieve nuclear weapons," Katsav said.

Katsav, whose country is considered by international experts to be the only one in the Middle East to possess nuclear arms, said he believed Iran does not need such weapons as "Iraq no longer represents a threat," while adding his own country did not consider Tehran as an enemy.

Before opening his visit, Katsav had told El Pais daily in an interview published Sunday that Israel has "major differences" with Iran, which he described as a "totalitarian, anti-democratic country, which collaborates with international terrorism.

"Iran tries to build nuclear arms, long-range missiles and has several times stated that Israel must be destroyed," Katsav told the Spanish daily.



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