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Iran's Ahmadinejad says that Israel will be 'eliminated' (+video)

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the state of Israel as a temporary phenomenon in the Middle East 

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'We seek peace in Syria'

The United Nations and Western officials have accused Iran of supplying weapons to Syria's pro-government forces, while Syria's government has accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of arming rebels determined to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

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Ahmadinejad rejected the charge that Iran was sending arms to Syria. "The so-called news that you alluded to has been denied vehemently, officially," Ahmadinejad said in a response to a question. "We seek peace in Syria. We like and love both sides. ... We see both sides as equally our brothers."

"In Syria, the intervention and meddling from outside have made conditions that much tougher," Ahmadinejad said. "We must help to quell the violence and help ... (facilitate) a national dialogue."

A U.N. Security Council panel of independent experts that monitors sanctions against Iran has uncovered several examples of Iran transferring arms to Syria. The United States and Britain say they are providing non-lethal assistance to Syria's rebels such as communications equipment, but not arms.

Ahmadinejad also addressed the issue of a California-made anti-Islam video, "The Innocence of Muslims," that has sparked anti-American protests around the Muslim world. He appeared to reject Washington's position that while it condemns the video's content, freedom of expression must be upheld.

"Freedoms must not interfere with the freedoms of others," Ahmadinejad said. "If someone insults, what would you do? ... Is insulting other people not a form of crime?"

Since the controversy over the video erupted this month, some Muslim leaders have reiterated calls for a U.N. measure outlawing insults to Islam and blasphemy in general.

Ahmadinejad also was asked about a move by an Iranian religious foundation, in response to the "The Innocence of Muslims," to increase its reward for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie.

"Where is he now?" Ahmadinejad asked of Rushdie. "Is he in the United States? If he is, you shouldn't broadcast that for his own safety."

Rushdie, an Indian-born British novelist who has nothing to do with the video, was condemned to death in 1989 by Khomeini, Iran's late leader, over his novel "The Satanic Verses," saying its depiction of the Prophet Mohammad was blasphemous.

Iran has a two-term limit for presidents. Ahmadinejad, widely seen as out of favor with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ends his second term next year. "But that does not mean I will be separating myself from politics," he said.

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