Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told the United Nations most people believe the US government was behind the attacks of September 11, 2001, prompting the US delegation to leave the hall in protest. Addressing the General Assembly, he said it was mostly US government officials and statesmen who believed al Qa'eda Islamist militants carried out the suicide hijacking attacks that brought down New York's World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon. Another theory, he said, was "that some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime." Mr Ahmadinejad usually refers to Israel as the "Zionist regime." "The majority of the American people as well as most nations and politicians around the world agree with this view," Mr Ahmadinejad told the 192-nation assembly, calling on the United Nations to establish "an independent fact-finding group" to look into the events of September 11. As in past years, the US delegation walked out during Mr Ahmadinejad's speech. It was joined by all 27 European Union delegations and several others, one Western diplomat said. Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the US mission to the United Nations, reacted before Mr Ahmadinejad finished speaking. "Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people, Mr Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable," he said. Mr Ahmadinejad raised a third theory about the attacks, saying: "It was carried out by a terrorist group, but that the American government supported and took advantage of the situation. Apparently this viewpoint has fewer proponents." He said the main evidence for that theory was "a few passports found in the huge volume of rubble and a video of an individual whose place of domicile was unknown but it was announced that he had been involved in oil deals with some American officials." "It was also covered up and said that due to the explosion and fire no trace of suicide attackers was found," he added. Similar to past years, the Iranian president used the General Assembly podium to attack Iran's other arch foe, Israel, and to defend the right of his country to a nuclear program that western powers fear is aimed at developing arms. "This regime (Israel), which enjoys the absolute support of some western countries, regularly threatens the countries in the region and continues publicly announced assassination of Palestinian figures and others, while Palestinian defenders ... are labeled as terrorists and anti-Semites," he said. "All values, even the freedom of expression, in Europe and the United States are being sacrificed at the altar of Zionism," Mr Ahmadinejad said. The Iranian president has previously raised doubts about the Holocaust of the Jews in World War Two and said Israel had no right to exist. * Reuters
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