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Iran vp says Iranians are friends of Isaraelis

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Iranian media are quoting the country’s vice president as saying Iranians are “friends of all people in the world – even Israelis.”

It’s a rare comment from a government official in Iran, whose president regularly calls for Israel’s destruction.

Several newspapers and the official Web site of Iran’s tourism agency today attributed the comment to Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashai.

Mashai is in charge of Iranian tourism and historical sites.

It’s believed to be the first time an official Iranian government Web site has carried an expression of sympathy by an Iranian vice president toward Israelis.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted international criticism when he said in 2005 that he believed Israel should be “wiped off the map.