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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Oliver Stone slams US involvement in Middle East during visit to Tehran film festival

US policy is 'a destructive plan and a tragedy', says Oscar-winning director

<p>US director Oliver Stone, centre, leaves after a press conference at the 36th International Fajr Film Festival in Tehran, Iran, on April 25, 2018. Abedin Taherkenareh / EPA</p>
US director Oliver Stone, centre, leaves after a press conference at the 36th International Fajr Film Festival in Tehran, Iran, on April 25, 2018. Abedin Taherkenareh / EPA

Oliver Stone, the filmmaker, has slammed America’s involvement in the Middle East during an appearance at Iran’s Fajr International Film Festival.

Stone was hosting a workshop for aspiring filmmakers at Tehran University on Wednesday night, where he told students: "We [the US] have always been involved in wars in the Middle East from Iraq to Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now Iran, which has never been off the map. It has always been a target ... we are dealing with the issue of Afghanistan for more than 18 years. Why?"

Stone, director of politically charged factual movies such as Nixon, Looking for Fidel and Snowden, as well as classics such as Midnight Express and Platoon, went on to blame the US for much of the violence and trauma that has rocked parts of the region in recent years: "America, combined with ISIS, and Israel aims to destroy the Middle East and make it a parking lot for America; to make it over and I think it is a very destructive plan and it is a tragedy," he said.

Stone added that he didn’t expect the current troubles in the region to benefit either his own country, or those in the Middle East, any time soon: "Americans have always been involved in war in different countries but have never got any lesson from the disastrous results and still plan to start other wars,” he said.

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The award-winning director has made movies about political figures including Richard Nixon, George Bush, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Eva Peron and Edward Snowden, but he insisted that the names at the top of the page make little difference: "I think it makes no difference who the president of the US is,” he asserted.

“When Obama came [to power], we were hopeful that the situation would get better but nothing changed and now Mr Trump is here and the same stories are going on again. This octopus will continue its path again and again. Iran is the main target for the US, so it will not leave Syria until it gets access to Iran which is a rich country geopolitically."

Stone insisted his appearance at the festival was entirely non-political. The director told Iranian journalist Nader Talebzadeh at the end of his appearance: "I came to Iran to watch films."