Interview With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Wednesday, September 23, 2009; 6:44 PM

In an exclusive wide-ranging interview with Newsweek's Lally Weymouth and editors from the Washington Post, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discussed his upcoming talks with the United States, his opinion of President Obama, his continued denial of the Holocaust as well as the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan, which he views as doomed. In it he previewed his offer to purchase enriched uranium from the United States for medicinal purposes, which proliferation experts say is likely a non-starter. Excerpts:

Q. As you know, Iran has been holding a Newsweek correspondent for three months, Maziar Bahari. I know you have been very generous this morning saying you would help release the American hikers. On humanitarian grounds, would you consider releasing Maziar?

A. I would like all prisoners to be released, but I am not the judge. The judge has to decide on this. If I were in charge of this case I would guarantee that all the prisoners would be released.

Q. But you said that you would try to get the American hikers released. Could you try to do the same for Maziar?

A. I want all prisoners to be released. Everyone. Americans and non-Americans -- it really makes no difference.

Q. When Iran is trying to restart relations with the West, why would you once again deny that there was a Holocaust, when that is so easily disprovable?

A. Don't you think that the Holocaust is a very important issue?

Q. Yes, I think it is the greatest crime of the 20th century.

A. So you do agree that it is an important topic. Do you believe that the Holocaust still carries through to this day in terms of its effects today? Could you explain to me how it affects issues today?

Q. It does not matter what I think. It matters what you think, Mr. President.

A. I understand but I would like for us to exchange our views so as to resolve an issue here.

Q. The world wants to know what you think.

CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company