Dubai - Iran is not calling for the elimination of the Jewish people, but believes people of all religions should decide Israel's future, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday.
Since its Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has refused to recognise Israel and has backed militant Palestinian groups. Israel has long accused Iran of seeking its destruction and regards Tehran as its main enemy in the Middle East.
"Calling for the elimination of the state of Israel does not mean the elimination of the Jewish people," Khamenei told officials and participants at an Islamic conference in Tehran, according to his official website.
"It means that the people of Palestine - be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish - should choose their own government."
The Shi'ite Muslim Khamenei, the ultimate authority on Iranian domestic and foreign policy, also criticised Western powers for pressuring Tehran over its nuclear programme.