DAMASCUS, Syria – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met Friday with the leaders of the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Syria, expressing his support a day after 20 people were wounded in Tel Aviv in a suicide attack claimed by Jihad.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has said Syria planned the attack and Iran funded it. Iranian and Syrian officials have denied any involvement by their countries.
Shortly before he left Syria at the end of a two-day visit, President Ahmadinejad reiterated that Syria and Iran had formed a "front" to oppose what he called world "arrogance and domination," a reference to the United States and its Western allies.
In a final statement, the two governments expressed support for Iran's right to the peaceful exploitation of nuclear power and criticized what they called the "selective and double-standard policy practiced by some international powers in this regard." The remark was a reference to U.S. and European opposition to Iran's enrichment of uranium, a process that can produce material for atomic bombs.
In a second reference to certain Western powers, the statement said Iran and Syria demanded a timetable "for the withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq."
On the second and final day of his first official visit to Syria, Ahmadinejad held separate meetings with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and a representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Earlier Friday, Mofaz said Israel had "definitive proof" of Iranian and Syrian involvement in Thursday's attack in Tel Aviv where a suicide bomber wounded 20 people in a fast-food restaurant. He said the findings would be shared with American and European officials.
On Thursday, his first day in Syria, the Iranian president made a new attack on the existence of Israel, challenging Europe to take back the Jews who emigrated to Israel.
Addressing Europe, he asked: "Would you open the doors of your own countries to these (Jewish) immigrants so that they could travel to any part of Europe they chose?"
He said he was confident that no Jews would remain in Israel if European countries allowed them to immigrate, according to Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency, which reported the remarks on Friday.
Ahmadinejad provoked an international outcries last year when he said Israel should be "wiped out" and that the Nazi Holocaust against Jews in World War II was a "myth."