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Ahmadinejad Defends 9/11 Conspiracy Comment

The Iranian president on Friday defended his remarks at the U.N. in which he claimed most people in the world believe the United States was behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

He also challenged the United Nations to set up a commission to study the attacks.

"I did not pass judgment, but don't you feel that the time has come to have a fact finding committee," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked during a news conference in a New York hotel.

U.S. Walks Out on Ahmadinejad's 9/11 Comment

CBS News State Department reporter Charles Wolfson reports that at one point, Ahmadinejad answered a question by saying: "Did I say anything wrong?"

When he was told he had upset many people, the Iranian leader took a swipe at American officials, saying "they think they're infallible," adding that "they're used to being the ones to talk."

He also lashed out at the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an overreaction to the attacks. The Americans should "not occupy the entire Middle East...bomb wedding parties...annihilate an entire village just because one terrorist is hiding there."

Ahmadinejad's remarks during a speech to the U.N. General Assembly Thursday afternoon prompted a walkout by the U.S. diplomats. Delegations from all 27 European Union nations followed the Americans out along with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Costa Rica, an EU diplomat said.

President Barack Obama responded to Ahmadinejad in a BBC Persian service interview Friday saying: "Well, it was offensive. It was hateful."

Obama: Ahmadinejad Sept. 11 comments "Hateful"

"And particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of Ground Zero, where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation, for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable," Obama said.

Ahmadinejad routinely makes incendiary remarks, which the West claims are a diversion from heavy international pressure on Tehran to end uranium enrichment and prove that it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon. Iran insists it is enriching uranium only to fuel nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

Iran is under four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions as punishment for its failure to make its nuclear ambitions transparent.

The Iranian leader said during the news conference that he thought it would be able reopen contact next month to set a framework for negotiations with the five permanent members of the Security Council - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China as well as Germany.

The grouping is known as the P5+1.

Asked if Iran was now ready to stop uranium enrichment, Ahmadinejad said he "will consider" that move if an outside source would proved the 20 percent enriched fuel Iran needs for a medical research reactor. He claimed yet again that "we are not interested in enriching uranium to a level above 20 percent" which could provide the core for a nuclear weapon.

The P5+1 had offered Iran to send its low enriched uranium to Russia where it would be further refined to 20 percent for the medical reactor. Iran rejected that offer and there have been no further negotiations. Obama has said the door to negotiations remains open. Ahmadinejad has so far refused to return to talks because of the latest round of tough sanctions imposed on Iran and spearheaded by the U.S.

On other matters, Ahmadinejad said, "I don't have a problem meeting with" Sarah Shourd, one of three Americans who were taken prisoner in Iran during a hiking trip along the border with Iraq. She was released from solitary confinement on Sept. 15 and has said she wants to meet Ahmadinejad while he is in New York.

The Iranian leader did not answer a question about whether he would also release Shourd's boyfriend Shane Bauer and their friend Josh Fattal. All three were captured in 2009.

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