JAKARTA (Reuters) -Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Western nations on Wednesday of hypocrisy and said their expressions of concern over nuclear programmes were a “big lie.”
“I’ll tell you, they are not concerned with nuclear programmes … They are themselves engaged in nuclear activities and they are expanding day by day. They test new brands of weapons of mass destruction every day,” he told a news conference during a visit to fellow Muslim nation Indonesia.
“Big powers pretend (they) are concerned, but it’s a big lie,” he said.
Ahmadinejad said Iranian people resented “incorrect decisions” taken by the international community.
“The Iranian people are sufficiently capable to defend (their) own rights,” he added.
Iran is under pressure to rein in a nuclear programme it says is for peaceful purposes but some countries fear is really aimed at developing weapons.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, has offered to help mediate on the issue, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his spokesman said after Yudhoyono met Ahmadinejad.
“We can cooperate well in reducing the tension and move toward continuing talks and negotiations,” Yudhoyono told reporters.
Spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said “Iran was very receptive” to Indonesia’s offer to help mediate.
“We hope it will happen. We need to breathe new life into negotiations,” he said.
CARROTS AND STICKS
Speaking of a letter sent to President Bush, which Washington shrugged off as an attempt to divert attention from the nuclear issue, Ahmadinejad said sending it was the right decision and that he had no comment on the U.S. reaction.
The United States has pushed for international action on the issue, and with a group of nations including China and Russia has authorized Britain, France and Germany to work on a package of carrots and sticks to entice Iran to change its program.
President Bush received the 18-page letter from Ahmadinejad on Monday, the first publicly announced personal communication from an Iranian president to his U.S. counterpart since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Despite Washington’s initial cool reaction, analysts say the letter might buy Tehran more time to pursue its program and improve its standing as a regional leader.
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla met with Ahmadinejad on Wednesday afternoon at the Iranian’s luxury hotel in Jakarta. Kalla told reporters after the near-hour-long discussion that “Indonesia will take a role behind the scenes for peaceful purposes on Iran issues.”
He also said without elaborating that Indonesia supported nuclear programs for peaceful use.
Kalla plays an influential role in Yudhoyono’s administration and helped broker a successful peace deal last year in Aceh province, where a separatist rebellion had simmered for decades.
Despite the attention to the nuclear issue, the prime stated purpose of Ahmadinejad’s visit to Jakarta is not the nuclear issue but development of economic ties.
Iran is in the process of investing several billion dollars in the oil and gas sector of fellow Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member Indonesia and both countries are eager to boost trade.
On Friday afternoon, Ahmadinejad is due to fly to Bali for a meeting of the Developing Eight group that also includes Indonesia, Nigeria, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Economic development, including peaceful uses of nuclear energy, figure high on the agenda for the meeting, which will end on Saturday.