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Last Updated: Monday, 14 August 2006, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
Iran's president launches weblog
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (file photo from 5 July)
Mr Ahmadinejad said he would try to make his blog entries shorter
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has joined a burgeoning international community - by starting his own weblog.

The launch of www.ahmadinejad.ir was reported on state TV, which urged users to send in messages to the president.

Mr Ahmadinejad's first posting, entitled autobiography, tells of his childhood, Iran's Islamic revolution, and the country's war with Iraq.

The blog includes a poll asking if users think the US and Israel are trying to trigger a new world war.

There is a postform for users to send in questions for the president, and a picture gallery containing a series of images of the blogger himself.

The move by Mr Ahmadinejad comes amid continuing internet censorship by the Iranian government.

With hope in God, I intend to wholeheartedly complete my talk in future with allotted 15 minutes
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's blog

In a country where the media is strictly controlled, the internet has become the main forum for dissident voices.

But in its bid to crack down on anti-government bloggers, the government uses one of the most sophisticated internet censorship systems in the world.

Such restrictions will not pose a problem for the president. However, at the end of his first posting - which runs to more than 2,000 words in English - he promises to try to keep things "shorter and simpler" in future.

"With hope in God, I intend to wholeheartedly complete my talk in future with allotted 15 minutes," he writes.

Nose bleed

Mr Ahmadinejad's first entry on his blog, which is available in Persian, Arabic, English and French and includes an RSS feed to get future new entries to readers, is dated Friday.

He begins by telling users of his humble origins. "During the era that nobility was a prestige and living in a city was perfection, I was born in a poor family in a remote village of Garmsar - approximately 90 kilometres west of Tehran," he writes.

Internet cafe in Tehran
The internet is extremely popular in Iran, but bloggers face strict censorship

His father was a "hard-bitten toiler blacksmith" and a "pious man", who had decided to move the family to Tehran when Mr Ahmadinejad was just a year old.

Describing himself as a "distinguished student", the president tells how he excelled at school, coming 132nd out of more than 400,000 students to take a university entrance test - despite suffering from a nose bleed at the time.

He talks about his admiration and affection for the leader of the Islamic revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and discusses Iran's war with Iraq, calling former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an "aggressor" who was "intoxicated with power".

The US is also heavily criticised by the president. At one point he describes it as "Great Satan USA" for what he says was its support for the "terrorist groups" which had tried to collapse Iran's Islamic government.

And the blog's current poll asks the question: "Do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another world war?"

'Publicity stunt'

It is not yet clear how well Mr Ahmadinejad's blog will be received. User figures already appear high - by 1100 BST on Monday, nearly 12,000 people had taken part in the online vote.

But Keivan Mehrgan, a Tehran-based blogger, told the Associated Press news agency he thought the president's efforts were merely a publicity stunt.

"Ahmadinejad used to have nothing to do with the internet and even talked against journalists and bloggers before he became president," he was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, in a move some suggest is part of the same search for a wider international audience, President Ahmadninejad also gave a rare interview to American television.

In extracts broadcast by the BBC on Monday, Mr Ahmadinejad condemned President Bush for wanting to solve the world's problems by force, and for "blindly supporting" Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah.

He also flatly denied Iran was seeking nuclear weapons.

"We want to have access to nuclear technology. We want to produce fuel," he said.

"Do you not think that the most important issue of the world of tomorrow will be energy? We think that Mr Bush's team and the parties that support him want to monopolise energy resources in the world."

The BBC's Bridget Kendall, at the United Nations, says Mr Ahmadinejad's decision to reach out to speak America at this moment - in the wake of the Lebanon conflict - was no accident.

President Ahmadinejad wanted to play on all the doubts about American foreign policy, and counter the notion that Iran is run by mad mullahs trying to get nuclear weapons, our correspondent says.

Interview with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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