Iran warns US of severe response
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday threatened "severe" retaliation if the United States attacked his country, which is locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear programme.
"They realize that if they make such a mistake the retaliation of Iran would be severe and they will repent," Ahmadinejad told a news conference in the United Arab Emirates. He was speaking through an interpreter.
"All people should know they cannot strike us. Iran is capable of defending itself. It is a strong country," said Ahmadinejad.
The West cannot stop Tehran from pursuing its nuclear energy programme, he said. "Superpowers cannot prevent us from owning this energy."
The United States, which has a strong military presence in the Gulf, accuses Iran of wanting to produce nuclear weapons and has sought tougher U.N. sanctions against Tehran. Iran says it wants only to generate electricity to allow more oil exports.
Using stronger language than on Sunday when he called for US troops to leave the region, Ahmadinejad said Gulf countries should "get rid of" foreign forces, which he blamed for regional insecurity.
He was speaking during a visit to the UAE, a US ally which, like Iran's other Gulf Arab neighbors, has expressed concern about Tehran's nuclear plans.
"We in the Persian Gulf are faced by difficulties and enemies. Those do not want the region to live in safety ... peace can be achieved by getting rid of these forces," he said.
"They intervene in the region and make it insecure. They claim that lack of security is the reason for their presence (but) the problem is the intervention of foreign powers."
Ahmadinejad said Iran had agreed to talk to the United States about Iraq to help the Iraqi people.
"The Americans, in order to solve the security situation in Iraq, requested to talk to Iran. In order to support the Iraqi people we will talk to them," he said.
"It (the meeting) will take place in Baghdad in the presence of the Iraqi government," he said, adding that a date for the talks had yet to be set.
The White House said on Sunday that US and Iranian officials would meet in the next few weeks in Baghdad about security in Iraq, confirming a similar announcement by Tehran.