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Last Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005, 22:31 GMT 23:31 UK
UN raps Iran's anti-Israel rant
An anti-Israel rally in Tehran, Iran
Ahmadinejad said his words were the Iranian nation's words
The UN Security Council has issued a statement condemning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his call for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

It follows similar criticism by several countries and a rare rebuke from United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Israel had called for the UN session, and welcomed the unanimous statement.

President Ahmadinejad however stood by his remarks, dismissing the criticism as invalid at an anti-Israel rally in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

The UN statement said: "The Security Council condemns the remarks about Israel attributed to Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic republic of Iran."

The BBC's Laura Trevelyan, at the UN in New York, says all 15 members of the Security Council agreed to the statement after discussions about the wording.

Initially, the Russian, Chinese and Algerian ambassadors had been reluctant to agree to a statement, she reports.

Iran defiant

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, welcomed the condemnation.

"60 years after the Holocaust, another leader of a member state of the United Nations demands the destruction of another member state of the United Nations," he said.

"This brings back very dark echoes from the past and we hope that this message will be heard loud and clear in Tehran."

But in Tehran, Mr Ahmadinejad said his remarks were "just" - and the criticism did not "have any validity".

Palestinians recognise the right of the state of Israel to exist and I reject his comments
Saeb Erekat
Chief Palestinian negotiator

Tens of thousands of Iranians took part in the Jerusalem Day rally in Tehran which Iran organises every year to show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Shouting "Death to Israel, death to the Zionists", the protesters dragged Israeli flags along the ground and set them on fire.

Joining the protest, Mr Ahmadinejad said: "My words were the Iranian nation's words.

"Westerners are free to comment, but their reactions are invalid."

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has distanced the Palestinian leadership from the Iranian position.

"What we need to be talking about is adding the state of Palestine to the map and not wiping Israel from the map," he told the BBC News website.

Egypt said Mr Ahmadinejad's outburst "showed the weakness of the Iranian government" while Turkey urged the president "to display political moderation".

Meanwhile, the Vatican expressed "great concern" about the "particularly grave and unacceptable comments denying the right to existence of Israel".

Correspondents say the UK government does not regard Mr Ahmadinejad's stance on Israel as a new policy but more as a sign of his inexperience and the very local focus of his government.


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