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Iran calls Mideast peace conference a failure

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Iran's president said on Wednesday that the Middle East peace conference held in Annapolis was doomed to failure, and produced no substantial results.

Tuesday's conference produced a joint Israeli-Palestinian statement setting a date for the renewal of bilateral peace talks, which have been stalled for seven years, and set up a trilateral steering committee to monitor the progress of future negotiations.

"Even the most short-sighted politicians will soon realize that from a political standpoint this conference was doomed to failure from the beginning," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a news conference.

The Iranian leader said any international conference would end in failure unless "all participants officially recognize the rights of the Palestinian people, and true representatives of the Palestinian nation and Palestinian resistance attend these forums."

The one-day Annapolis summit was attended by 44 nations, including 12 Arab states. Iran, which does not recognize the state of Israel, is the only influential country in the region that did not attend.

Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and was excluded from the talks, earlier dismissed the conference as a "waste of time", and said it would ignore any agreements reached there.

Thousands of protesters gathered on Tuesday on Gaza City's central square, chanting slogans: "Down with the devils who have gathered in America," "Palestine and Jerusalem are not for sale," "We will never recognize Israel," and "Our refugees must return home."

However, Arab states that attended the conference have pledged to improve relations with Israel when an independent Palestinian state is formed, with its capital in East Jerusalem, and when Palestinian refugees are brought home. They are also seeking an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands occupied in the 1967 Israel-Arab War, as well as from Syria's Golan Heights. - RIA Novosti

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