February 27, 2008

Rare criticism in Iran of Ahmadinejad rhetoric on Israel

A top Iranian cleric made a rare criticism of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's verbal attacks on Israel on Wednesday, saying a foreign policy of "coarse slogans" was not in the national interest. Hassan Rowhani, a former top nuclear negotiator who still holds several influential positions, said that Iran needed to show more flexibility and desire for dialogue in its dealings with the international community. "Does foreign policy mean expressing coarse slogans and grandstanding?" Rowhani asked in a speech to a foreign policy conference in Tehran. "This is not a foreign policy. We need to find an accommodating way to decrease the threats and assure the interests of the country." His comments came a week after the latest verbal attack on Israel by Ahmadinejad, who described the Jewish state as a "dirty microbe" and "savage animal" in a speech to a public rally.