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The Iranian people are ready to march on Israel to "wipe it out" if the Jewish state attacks the Islamic republic, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in statements published Wednesday by Egypt's state news agency.
"The people of Iran are ready to march on Israel to wipe it out if it launches into an adventure against Tehran" and attacks the country, the Iranian president told Egyptian newspaper editors, according to excerpts published by MENA.
"The Zionists... hope to aggress Iran and attack it, but they are very afraid of the Iranian reaction and of the consequences of such an attack," he said in the Arabic transcription of the comments made during a visit to Egypt.
"Our defence forces are capable of dissuading any aggressor and making him regret his act," Ahmadinejad said.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was growing under the "terrifying dictatorship" ruling the Islamic republic.
"The Iranian danger has grown," Peres said at the opening of the newly-elected Israeli parliament. "It threatens our existence, the independence of the Arab states, the peace of the whole world.
Much of the international community fears that Iran's nuclear programme includes efforts to develop nuclear weapons, a charge that Tehran denies.
Israel believes that Iran must be prevented from reaching military nuclear capabilities at any cost and refuses to rule out military intervention to achieve this.
Ahmadinejad is on historic visit to Egypt, the first by an Iranian president since Tehran severed diplomatic ties with Cairo in 1980 in protest at the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.
While in Cairo, he is attending a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation