New York (CNN) – I had a rare opportunity to talk directly with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday at a press event he held in New York after he addressed the U.N. General Assembly.
By most accounts, Ahmadinejad’s views are way out there. He stuck to his favorite talking points on a variety of topics ranging from America’s troubles, Israel, the uprising in the Middle East and homosexuality. When faced with negative questions about Iran, Ahmadinejad knew how to quickly deflect them and turn the conversation back toward the flaws of the United States. In our one hour together, the Iranian leader was asked about several of those issues. Here are just some of them:
I asked him what his impression was of President Obama. Ahmadinejad said Obama came with the slogan of change but never delivered. He went on to say that Obama lost the support of the American people, and he said his own opinion of Obama is very much in line with the American population.
I also asked him about his September 24, 2007, comments at Columbia University in which he denied the existence of homosexuals in Iran. Ahmadinejad didn’t back away from those remarks and said his position hadn’t changed even though he conceded there may be some gays in Iran. He said homosexuality is a shameful act, one of the ugliest forms of behavior, and there is no way to defend it.
On Israel, the Iranian leader said his country is not ready to recognize “the Zionist entity,” which is what he calls Israel, even if there were a peace agreement with the Palestinians. When asked if he’s worried Israel might launch a military strike, Ahmadinejad responded that “the Zionists” entered the region only to fight and create wars, and if they try any aggression toward Iran, they will regret it.
When asked about the Arab Spring, Ahmadinejad said all the regimes that have fallen have done so because they were supported by the United States.
Speaking of revolts, Ahmadinejad pointed to economically charged demonstrations in Europe, saying that discontent will eventually spread to the United States. He went even further, claiming some of America’s economic troubles are due to the sanctions imposed on Iran. He admitted they did have an effect, but said Iran is a great, resilient nation and the Iranian people will deal with it.
I will say this about the Iranian leader: He knows his talking points. He doesn’t give an inch. I also thought he actually enjoyed talking with the American reporters.
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