West repeating `mistakes` in Libya: Iranian President

Iran`s supreme leader said the campaign was launched to obtain Libya`s oil.

Tehran: The US and its Western allies are repeating "mistakes" by intervening in Libya, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday as he hosted regional leaders to celebrate the Persian New Year.

"Wherever it is appropriate, they (the US and its allies) stand with despotic rulers ... and when necessary, they sacrifice them to ensure their own interests," Ahmadinejad said in an allusion to the military campaign against Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

"Despite the clear lessons that the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan have taught them and despite the public opinion`s hatred, the oppressive governments are repeating their mistakes," he said.

Western-led strikes in Libya began on March 19 to enforce a no-fly zone in the face of an armed rebellion against Gaddafi. Missions continued on Saturday to protect civilians against regime forces, the Pentagon said.

"Under various pretexts, they bomb innocent civilians and destroy the infrastructure of other countries to dominate them," Ahmadinejad added, in a televised address at a gathering of officials from more than a dozen regional countries.

Presidents Jalal Talabani of Iraq, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Emomali Rakhmon of Tajikistan, Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and Turkmenistan`s Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov are in Tehran, at the invitation of Ahmadinejad, to celebrate Nowruz, or the Persian new year which marks the transition from winter to spring.

Ahmadinejad said the event should send out a "message of peace and justice in the world" but used the occasion to accuse the West of seeking to "ensure cheap energy" and "wage war out of the economic crisis”.

"The warplanes, missiles and bombs are symbols of the United States and its allies," he said.

Iranian officials have criticised the military intervention in Libya, with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying the campaign was launched to obtain the control of the North African country`s oil.

The officials attending the two-day Nowruz ceremonies in Tehran are expected to meet Khamenei later.

It is the second straight year that Ahmadinejad has invited regional leaders to celebrate Nowruz. Conservative leaders have criticised this year`s celebration after deadly anti-government protests rocked the Arab world.

Bureau Report