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Iran President dismisses White House charge over interference in Iraq

President Mohammad Khatami said on Wednesday that the White House allegations about Iranian interference in Iraqi domestic affairs emanates from Washington's failures in Iraq, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"Iran has deep concerns about stability in Iraq and we always respect Iraqi sovereignty. We think that withdrawal of the occupying powers will help security in Iraq and stability in the region," President Khatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"The Shia population of Iraq have exercised the best behavior vis-a-vis the current situation in Iraq. The remnants of former Iraqi regime and the extremist groups are responsible for the attacks against the American and British troops there," President Khatami said.

"You will see all the problems resolved in Iraq when you hand over the administration to the Iraqi people themselves," he said.

Asked about the issues discussed by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw with Iranian officials in Tehran, President Khatami said that Mr. Straw had nothing new to say. The negotiations focused on the issues you read in the press. Fortunately, the subjects concerning Iranian relations with Britain and the European Union (EU) were discussed more frankly, he said.

He replied in the negative when asked whether Straw had conveyed a message from the United States.

On the upcoming visit to Iran of Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei, President Khatami said that Iran has excellent relations with the agency adding that Mr. ElBaradei himself has acknowledged that.

He said that Iran will go ahead with cooperation with the IAEA adding that ElBaradei's visit to Iran next week is a token of close relationship with the agency.

President Khatami said that Iran never dismissed the IAEA proposal to undertake new commitments.

"We see it as our absolute right to use nuclear energy for economic development. We have grievances about IAEA's treatment towards us. The agency has not fulfilled its obligation in terms of non-proliferation treaty (NPT). The agency has not provided Iran with technical assistance as part of the terms of the treaty," he said.

President Khatami said that the IAEA has failed to encourage member states to supply Iran with technology to proceed with its economic development plan and criticized the United States for raising controversy about Iranian nuclear program.

"The extent to which they exert pressure on Iran to sign the Additional Protocol to NPT, they should exert the same amount of pressure on Israel, which possesses at least 200 warheads, to adhere to the international treaty, NPT," he said adding that Iran is concerned about nuclear arms and calls for making the Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Asked whether Pakistan will mediate between Iran and the United States, President Khatami said, "We don't need mediation. The US is expected to change its methodology, abandon hostility towards Iran and not to interfere in the national affairs of Iran. We are men of logic and dialogue. We don't bow to force and pressure. No breakthrough is possible in Iran-US relations if there is any pressure or force," he said.

Asked about the protest demonstrations in the country, President Khatami said that in a community where the government advocates democracy there should be demonstrations against even the system. This is the right of every individual to protest against the system, but, there is a difference between protest demonstrations and sabotage.

The demonstrations should be held in an orderly manner. That's why the students separated their ranks with the saboteurs.

He made it clear that the government has no concern about the student demonstrations criticizing the system, but, there is a difference between the students and the rioters.

... Payvand News - 7/2/03 ... --

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