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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Leaders Balk at Iranian's Provocation

LONDON -- Governments around the world expressed shock and scorn Thursday at the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be "wiped off the map," and several summoned Tehran's envoys in their capitals for a reprimand.

In a speech Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said a new wave of Palestinian attacks "will wipe this stigma from the face of the Islamic world."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Thursday Iran should be expelled from the United Nations.

"Such a country that has nuclear weapons is a danger, not only to Israel and the Middle East, but also to Europe," Sharon said in a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov said the remark was "unacceptable."

The 25 European Union leaders, meeting at Hampton Court Palace near London, condemned the remarks, saying they "will cause concern about Iran's role in the region and its future intentions."

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Ahmadinejad's remarks "serve to underscore our concern as well as the international community's concern about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons."

But a senior Iranian government official told Reuters on Thursday that "Iran's policy toward Israel will remain unchanged. We do not want more confrontation with the West," speaking on condition of anonymity.

(AP, Reuters)