On Sept. 20, 2007, 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Iran. In the interview, transcribed below, President Ahmadinejad spoke through his own translator.of the transcript.
SCOTT PELLEY: Do you have a greeting to the American people?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful, I would like to greet the American people and the good nations around the world. Right now we are in the city of Tehran. It's in the afternoon of an autumn day. We're in the open air in a garden. And the air is pleasant. And fall, little by little, is settling in, mixing with the summer breeze, I guess. And I think that right now, you have different time zones obviously and different climates. We have early morning in the U.S. and other time zones perhaps approaching the noon. So once again, greetings to you. I very much hope that nations around the world start their days with peace, friendship, and happiness.
PELLEY: Mr. President, do you intend to press your request to visit the World Trade Center site in New York?
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: Well, sir, you're the head of government of an Islamist state that the United States government says is a major exporter of terrorism around the world.
AHMADINEJAD: Well, I wouldn't say that what the American government says is the prerequisite here. Something happened there which led to other events. Many innocent people were killed there. Some of those people were American citizens obviously. We obviously are very much against any terrorist action and any killing. And also we are very much against any plots to sow the seeds of discord among nations. Usually you go to these sites to pay your respects. And also to perhaps air your views about the root causes of such incidents. I think that when I do that, I will be paying, as I said earlier, my respect to the American nation.
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, as if to be mocking the American people.
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. I would like to think that the points of view of the American people is very close to the points of view of the Iranian people. The American people are very much against and opposed what certain American officials are saying and their points of view. And they're also, the way that the people have voted in the American elections is very telling. And we are criticizing such behavior on the part of the American government. We believe that if anyone just allows himself to accuse others, there will be no possibility for peace and friendship.
PELLEY: What do you mean the American election is telling? What did you take from it?
AHMADINEJAD: What I'm saying is that the American people very clearly have shown that they do not endorse what certain American officials are saying and doing. I remind you of the rallies in Washington a couple of days ago. What were they saying and shouting? Perhaps 70, 80 percent of the American people are against their troops, their sons and daughters being in Iraq and war. And as I said, they're very much against war. And for that matter, the American people are peace-loving people. You shouldn't think that what the American officials are doing and their behavior reflects completely the mood of the American people. And American officials must not make the American people a victim of their wants and wishes. And we make a distinction between the American people and American officials. And the American people are opposed to occupation, the use of force, and also terrorism, the killing of the people of other nations. And this is what we are saying. This is what we believe in. With that in mind, we feel very close to the American people. And I'm sure that this is reciprocal. A couple of days ago, an American scientist, a scholar, wrote to me saying that he has a great love for Iran. And once he passes, he wants to be buried in this country. The two nations are very close to one another.