Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has previously denied Israel's right to exist, envisaged for the first time Sunday the possibility of a peaceful "solution" in the Middle East, Tehran radio reported.
But he insisted in a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan that Palestinian rights be totally respected, the radio said.
Tehran has always viewed Israel as "occupied Palestine", which should be brought under Palestinian rule by force if necessary.
"One cannot ignore the Palestinian people. If a solution is envisaged, the rights of the Palestinians must be totally respected," he said.
"We have always been in favor of peace, while demanding respect for Palestinian rights," Khamenei said.
"We are fighting the arrogance of the Zionist regime and the total support it receives from the United States."
Khamenei also criticized the United Nations and the Security Council for its "lack of respect for international laws", while praising the world body and Iran in particular for its role in Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon.
But he warned, "This withdrawal is not over, the Zionist regime has not pulled out of all of Lebanese territory."
Khamenei also paid tribute to Hizbullah, saying it "has had the wisdom to maintain calm" in the area since the Israeli withdrawal – TEHRAN (AFP)
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