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Australia has backed down from its threat to pursue legal action against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his inflammatory comments about Israel.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said on Wednesday that the government had given “exhaustive consideration” to legal action against the Iranian president in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had said in May that the government was seeking legal advice on a case against Ahmadinejad after he made anti-Semitic remarks and called for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map.”

Smith said on Wednesday: “Having now considered legal and other advice, the Government has decided not to pursue international legal action against Iran.”

He added that the case against Ahmadinejad ran the risk of giving oxygen to “these obscene remarks.”

“Most importantly, the Australian Government would not want such legal action to complicate or distract from the international community’s efforts to address the serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and its failure to abide by binding United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

He said Australia was imposing travel and trade sanctions against Tehran, which included 20 Iranian individuals and 18 organizations that contribute to Tehran’s nuclear program.

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