IRANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE WILL NOT PUSH TO VISIT GROUND ZERO AND THAT HE WAS ONLY THINKING OF PAYING RESPECT IN AN EXCLUSIVE "60 MINUTES" INTERVIEW SUNDAY ON CBS
Iranian Leader is "Amazed" the Gesture Would Insult Americans
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not press his plan - just denied by New York City Police for security reasons - to visit Ground Zero in New York City, he tells 60 MINUTES' Scott Pelley in an exclusive interview conducted today in Iran. The Iranian leader says he's "amazed" and skeptical that most Americans view his visit there as insulting as his intention was only to show respect. The interview will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday Sept. 23 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS television Network.
An excerpt from the interview follows:
PELLEY: Mr. President, do you intend to press your request to visit the World Trade Center site?
AHMADINEJAD: Well, it was included in my program. If we have the time and the conditions are conducive, I will try to do that.
PELLEY: But the New York Police Department and others do not appear to want you there. Do you intend to go there anyway?
AHMADINEJAD: Well, over there, local officials need to make the necessary coordinations. If they can't do that, I won't insist.
PELLEY: Sir, what were you thinking? The World Trade Center site is the most sensitive place in the American heart, and you must have known that visiting there would be insulting to many, many Americans.
AHMADINEJAD: Why should it be insulting?
PELLEY: But the American people, sir, believe that your country is a terrorist nation, exporting terrorism in the world. You must have known that visiting the World Trade Center site would infuriate many Americans .
AHMADINEJAD: Well, I'm amazed. How can you speak for the whole of the American nation?
PELLEY: Well, the American nation--
AHMADINEJAD: You are representing a media and you're a reporter. The American nation is made up of 300 million people. There are different points of view over there.