Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday railed against NATO and the United States saying they pursued policies of "colonialism."
“NATO and the United States should change their policy because the time when they dictate their conditions to the world has passed,” Ahmadinejad said during a conference on Afghanistan’s economy in the capital of neighboring Tajikistan.
Calling for the immediate withdrawal of US-led foreign troops from Afghanistan, Ahmadinejad said: “The main reason for the difficulties in the world is the policy of NATO member countries, undertaken with the aim of reviving colonialism.”
“The entire problem lies with NATO and with the policies of NATO members, most of all the United States, which entered Afghanistan under the guise of the war on terrorism and under the same banner is now surrounding India, Russia and China.”
Ahmadinejad also said that relations between NATO and Pakistan are to become weaker.
“Relations between NATO and Pakistan, their unsteadiness and instability, will only grow.”
The US delegation to the conference, headed by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake, left the hall when Ahmadinejad began to speak, only returning after he finished his remarks.
Significantly, while US President Barack Obama warned Iran on Monday that "time was running out" to resolve the standoff over its nuclear program through diplomacy, Ahmadinejad made no reference to Iran’s nuclear program during his speech.
Following a staggering blow in Iran's recent parliamentary elections, Ahmajinehad has been increasingly sidelined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in diplomatic and economic affairs.
Mohammad Javad Larijani – a key advisor to Khamenei – has increasingly taken the fore in matters pertaining to Iran's nuclear program ahead of expected talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
Larijani said the West should accept Iran's "peaceful nuclear program," sell Iran 20 percent enriched uranium, and provide the customary assitance nuclear nations provide to those building nuclear power plants.
He did not say Iran would halt uranium enrichment – a key demand by Jerusalem and Washington to avoid military strikes – but observers say the stipulation that the West provide 20% enriched uranium indicates Iran is open to doing so.
In exchange, Larijani said Iran would provide "full transparency" and allow "permanent human monitoring" of its nuclear program.
He has also sought to distance Iran from an often-quoted statement by increasingly out-of-favor Iranian President Ahmadinejad about “wiping Israel from the face of the map.”
Larijani emphatically said it was “definitely not” Iran's intent to militarily obliterate Israel, adding that “neither the president meant that, nor is it a policy of Iran.”