Angry Obama hits back at Iran over claims 9/11 was US plot
Iranian president's remarks close to Ground Zero 'hateful and inexcusable'
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has condemned remarks made by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the September 11 attacks as "hateful" and "inexcusable".
Mr Ahmadinejad sparked outrage in the US on Thursday and a partial walkout in the UN general assembly chamber when he said in a speech that most people believed the US government staged the attacks.
"It was offensive, it was hateful," Mr Obama said in a television interview. He said it was particularly offensive for the Iranian president to make such a statement in Manhattan, just north of the Ground Zero site of the felled twin towers of the World Trade Centre.
The US president described the site as a place "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".
Nick Clegg, the British deputy prime minister, amended his speech to the UN summit to include a sharp criticism of Mr Ahmadinejad. Mr Clegg said, "I was ready today to welcome the progress made in this week's meeting of the E3+3 group on Iran. I was ready to straightforwardly reiterate our concerns about Iran's nuclear programme.
"But instead, once again, an issue of grave global concern has been overshadowed by the bizarre, offensive and attention-grabbing pronouncements by President Ahmadinejad from this podium.
"His remarks were intended to distract attention from Iran's obligations and to generate media headlines. They deserve to do neither."
In his speech, Mr Ahmadinejad said it was mostly US government officials who believed that a "powerful and complex terrorist group" was behind the four suicide plane hijackings in 2001.
Another theory, he said, was "that some segments within the American government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime".
A third theory, he said, was that a terrorist group was exploited and aided by the Americans to carry out the attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
US and European leaders have walked out during past speeches by Mr Ahmadinejad at the UN because of anti-American or anti-Israeli comments.
The remarks underlined the difficulty the US administration and its allies face as they try and persuade the Iranians to enter talks about their nuclear programme.
US officials have this week spoken of encouraging signs from Iranian officials, but Mr Ahmadinejad's provocation will bring the seriousness of those signals into question. (©Daily Telegraph, London)