Iranian president blames US for market collapse
By EDITH M. LEDERER
UNITED NATIONS - Iran's president blamed U.S. military interventions
around the world in part for the collapse of global financial markets
ahead of his speech Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said the campaign against his
country's nuclear program was solely due to the Bush
administration "and a couple of their European friends."
"The U.S. government has made a series of mistakes in the past few
decades," Ahmadinejad said an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"The imposition on the U.S. economy of the years of heavy military
engagement and involvement around the world ... the war in Iraq, for
example. These are heavy costs imposed on the U.S. economy.
"The world economy can no longer tolerate the budgetary deficit and
the financial pressures occurring from markets here in the United
States, and by the U.S. government," he added.
In a separate interview with National Public Radio, Ahmadinejad said
he does not want confrontation with the United States.
Despite U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program,
Ahmadinejad claimed vast international support for his position and
said the campaign consisted "of only three or four countries, led by
the United States and with a couple of their European friends."
Iran insists its nuclear activities are geared only toward generating
power. But Israel says the Islamic Republic could have enough nuclear
material to make its first bomb within a year. The U.S. estimates
Tehran is at least two years away from that stage.
Ahmadinejad's speech will come just hours after President Bush made
his eighth and final speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
Bush said Tuesday the international community must stand firm against
the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea. And he said that
despite past disagreements over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, members of
the U.N. must unite to help the struggling democracy succeed.
"A few nations, regimes like Syria and Iran, continue to sponsor
terror," Bush said. "Yet their numbers are growing fewer, and they're
growing more isolated from the world. As the 21st century unfolds,
some may be tempted to assume that the threat has receded. This would
be comforting. It would be wrong. The terrorists believe time is on
their side, so they've made waiting out civilized nations part of
their strategy. We must not allow them to succeed."
Throughout Bush's speech, Ahmadinejad at in his seat and smiled and
waved to people in the chamber. At one point during Bush's 22-minute
talk, Ahmadinejad turned to someone at his side and gave a thumb's
Bush's appearance was overshadowed by the U.S. financial crisis that
has rippled through world markets. Trying to reassure world leaders
that his administration is taking decisive action to stem market
turmoil, Bush said he is confident that Congress will act in
the "urgent timeframe required" to prevent broader problem. But he
did not ask other nations to take any specific actions.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a wholesale reform of the
global financial system, urging major economic powers to meet before
the end of the year to examine the lessons of the crisis.
"Let us rebuild capitalism in which credit agencies are controlled
and punished when necessary, where transparency ... replaces
opaqueness," Sarkozy said. "We can do this on one condition, that we
all work together in our globalized world."
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also called for a global
solution to the financial crisis and lashed out at speculators whom
he blamed for the "anguish of entire peoples."
"The global nature of this crisis means that the solutions we adopt
must also be global," Silva said.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon painted a grim picture of a world
facing not only a financial crisis but food and energy crises as well
as new outbreaks of war and violence.
"We must do more to help our fellow human beings weather the
gathering storm," he told world leaders. "I see a danger of nations
looking more inward, rather than toward a shared future. I see a
danger of retreating from the progress we have made, particularly in
the realm of development and more equitably sharing the fruits of
"We need to restore order to the international financial markets," he
said. "We need a new understanding on business ethics and governance,
with more compassion and less uncritical faith in the `magic' of
markets. And we must think about how the world economic system should
evolve to more fully reflect changing realities of our time."
Associated Press writers Slobodan Lekic and Michael Astor contributed
to this report.
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