|JAKARTA (AFP) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hit back at what he called a US propaganda war, keeping up his firebrand attacks on the West a day after saying that Israel would one day vanish.
Ahmadinejad, who has become the public face of the Islamic republic in its quest for nuclear know-how that critics say is a bid to build the atom bomb, said his nation was a great force that would not bow to the US and its allies.
"They perhaps are using propaganda to start a war of ideology but they actually know that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a great force," he told a summit of Islamic and political leaders in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
"They actually are carrying out propaganda with a sour face and are using strong words to intimidate our people, but I'm telling you the people of Iran are not afraid of them."
Asked if Iran was preparing for a potential military strike, he replied: "We deem that this matter is far from the possibility of taking place."
Ahmadinejad later attended Friday prayers at Jakarta's Istiqlal mosque, the largest in Indonesia, where he was mobbed by a crowd of thousands eager to catch a glimpse of him and shake his hand.
The congregation chanted "God is great!" when he was introduced by Indonesia's religious affairs minister.
"Indonesian people are people of faith and I am honoured to have come here," he told them.
Ahmadinejad's visit comes amid a backdrop of frantic international diplomacy over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The United States and European Union troika of Britain, France and Germany are pushing for a binding UN resolution that could clear the way for economic sanctions, possible escalating toward military action.
They are meeting resistance from China and Russia, however, which both have close economic ties with Iran.
On Wednesday Washington, which has so far failed to win support for UN sanctions against Tehran, said it would give its European partners "a couple of weeks" to draft a fresh approach.
On Thursday, the Iranian leader ramped up his rhetoric against the West, calling Israel a "cancer" that would "one day vanish".
"We believe that a government such as this one will not last long because it is built on tyranny and tyranny will not last long," he said as he also brushed off the threat of sanctions and war against Tehran.
"The idea of going to war is a joke, it's like a joke. Why should there be a war?" he said. "They do know that any mistreatment of the Iranian people will actually cause more losses to them than for us."
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who met with Ahmadinejad on Wednesday, backed Tehran's claim that its nuclear program was peaceful.
But on Thursday, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said his country had not offered to mediate in talks aimed at resolving Iran's nuclear stand-off as Yudhoyono's spokesman earlier told reporters.
Ahmadinejad was due to fly to Bali Friday afternoon to attend a summit of the Developing-8 (D-8) group of large Muslim countries on Saturday.
Iran's courting of Indonesia comes as both the United States and Britain have been keen to build ties with it and hold up its moderate version of Islam and democratic credentials as an example to other Muslim nations