Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi discussed key regional and international issues here Wednesday evening. The two met on the sidelines of the ongoing 61st annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. In the meeting, the two sides laid emphasis on expansion of Tehran-Rome ties. “Iran has always distanced itself from confrontation and tension and believes that the issue with respect to its peaceful nuclear programs can be resolved if European countries take independent stances,” Ahmadinejad said. Alluding to Iran’s prominent status and role in Middle East and world issues, he said that the “hatred of regional nations towards the US is increasing” and warned European countries to “take stock of developments and adopt effective stances.” Ahmadinejad also lauded Italy’s position on the recent Israeli military aggression on Lebanon. “The US and Britain, which have been flouting concerns over the exact nature of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, have not only kept silent on the Zionist regime’s non-conventional arms activities but have also helped it in its recent aggression on Lebanon by equipping the regime with the most modern, destructive weapons,” he said. Prodi said Italy “holds on to its stance that negotiation is the best way to settle the Iran nuclear issue and believes the trend of talks is positive.” He said that Tehran is a country with great influence in the international arena and there was no doubt it plays an effective and active role in the region. “Today Iran enjoys a special status in regional and international affairs.” The Italian prime minister voiced his country’s eagerness to promote ties with Iran in all fields.
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