Iranian president urges Americans to demand withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq

Wednesday, November 29th 2006, 5:07 am
By: News On 6

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Iran's president urged the American people in an open letter Wednesday to demand the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and reject what he called the Bush administration's ``blind support'' for Israel and its ``illegal and immoral'' actions in fighting terrorism.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to ``Noble Americans,'' which was distributed by Iran's mission to the United Nations, also accused Bush of governing by ``coercion, force and injustice.''

Ahmadinejad appealed to the American people to work to reverse the U.S. leader's policies, and called on the Bush administration and the new Democratic-controlled Congress to heed the results of the recent midterm elections.

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey called the letter ``something of a public relations stunt or a public relations gesture'' by the Iranian government, and said it was a shame Ahmadinejad did not allow people in his own country the opportunity to have a free and open debate of political ideas and views.

Ahmadinejad urged Bush to put the United States' ``wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war.''

In a message to Democrats, he said: ``You will also be held to account by the people and by history.''

``But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners,'' he said, adding that the recent elections did not reflect a victory but rather ``the failure of the current administration's policies.''

Ahmadinejad's letter also said the U.S. invasion of Iraq has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, an exponential growth of terrorism and the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure.

``I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure,'' he said.

He suggested it would be beneficial for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Iraq and spend its money instead on domestic problems, citing the ``many victims'' of Hurricane Katrina who continue to suffer and ``countless'' Americans living in poverty.

He also said the Bush administration's policies in its fight against terrorism were harming Americans directly.

``The U.S. administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of 'the war on terror,' civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed,'' he said.

``I have no doubt that the American people do not approve of this behavior and indeed deplore it,'' he said.

Ahmadinejad focused some attention on the past good relations between the U.S. and Iran, and said both countries' people are ``inclined towards the good, and toward extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.''

Ahmadinejad has alienated many Americans by calling for Israel's destruction and repeatedly dismissing the Nazi Holocaust as a myth. He also strongly supports the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the Lebanese faction Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers terrorist organizations.

In his letter, Ahmadinejad accused the Bush administration of disregarding U.S. public opinion by supporting ``the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people'' by Israel. He urged Americans to support the right of the Palestinians to live in their own homeland.

Twice this year, Iran has proposed talks with the U.S. over the security situation in Iraq, but Ahmadinejad has said that for such negotiations to take place, Washington must change its behavior. On Sunday, he said Iran was ready to help the U.S. get out of the ``Iraqi quagmire if the U.S. changes its bullying policy toward Iran.''

Iran and the U.S. have had no diplomatic relations since 1979 when militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and kept 52 people hostage for 444 days.

Ahmadinejad wrote a rambling, 18-page letter to Bush in May, lambasting the U.S. leader for his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks and accusing the media of spreading lies about the Iraq war.

Washington dismissed the letter for also not addressing Iran's nuclear program.

Wednesday's letter also makes no mention of Iran's disputed nuclear program, which the U.S. alleges is geared toward secretly developing atomic weapons. The U.S. is leading the drive to impose U.N. sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium.