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Khatami slams US 'aggression' in his Norouz message to Iranians

President Mohammad Khatami has denounced US-led war against Iraq, saying the invasion threatens the whole region and the world, IRNA reported from Tehran on Friday.

"This military attack, apart from the destructive damage which has for the oppressed Iraqi people, is dangerous for the whole region and the world," he said in a part of his message to Iranians Friday on the eve of Norouz, marking the new solar year of 1382.

"(This) is a threat against humanity and global peace, since it is based on a horrible illusion of a superpower which (thinks) since it has force, it has the right to impose its demands at will at whatever cost.

"... we have opposed this move from the outset and today we again clearly condemn this military attack. Fortunately, we are not alone in the world; the human conscience today as well as the world public opinion and an important section of the American public opinion, which is unfortunately under the influence of American psychological bombardment, agree with us and condemn this aggression.

"Today, it is America which is alone; it is America whose actions lack legitimacy and I am confident that the rest of the American public opinion, which has been instigated by the massive propaganda, will sooner or later join other Americans and the world and will pressure the American government over this unwise action.

"However, one must ask who is responsible for all the damage incurred until then; who is responsible for threatening the international peace and escalating violent and extremist waves.

"We have been watching the prevailing developments and we follow them up in an extensive coordination with the world countries and our friends. We always pursue our security and interests and try to protect them," the Iranian president said.

Khatami outlined Iran's achievements, including its efforts to strengthen the country's standing in the international scene and boost its security and economy as well as uphold democracy, in the past year.

"In year 1381, we faced many pleasant and unpleasant events. Our biggest anxiety, which we shared and still share with the rest of the world, related to the arrogance and prejudice of American rulers and their belligerency which ultimately led the Iraqi nation and regional people be presented with bullets, blood and hatred on the brink of spring.

"In the domestic scene, we had enormous achievements, shortcomings and failure. Differences are normal in our society which is experiencing its own way of democracy.

"However, if differences are not tolerated and narrow-mindedness prevails, (they) are a cause for concern. We have started a big job since religious democracy is a genuine experience and requires patience and perseverance.

"The mystery of our strength is the people and whatever distances the government and the people from each other is harmful, especially at the time when the ill-wishers and the enemies seek to insinuate such a gap.

"We must join hands since we have a long course ahead to cover. Our society definitely faces enormous problems and I am aware of the nation's pains and shortcomings. Beside apologizing for all the problems, I must say that great work has been done at the hands of this nation's children in many scientific, cultural, political and economic fields in recent years," Khatami said.

Supreme Leader denounces "satanic" US-led attack on Iraq

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the US-led attack on Iraq as "satanic" and called for immediate halt to the invasion.

"Although the attack has started at the American and British will, it is not clear whether the end of the war will also be at their hands if they do not rapidly pull out of this battle," he said in his Friday message to Iranians on the eve of Norouz which marks the new solar year of 1382.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran, while calling for immediate halt to the war, does not defend the dictatorial Baath regime; it only defends the Iraqi nation and believes that the future of Iraq must be decided only by the Iraqi nation," the supreme leader said.

Ayatollah Khamenei also called on the Iranian youth to stay vigilant against British and American provocations, including their cultural and political war against the Islamic Republic.

"My message to the beloved youth is that they strengthen their resolution and prepare themselves for a brave presence in various scenes. Although, we may have no military war, we will definitely have a political and economic, especially a cultural, war," he said.

"This is the unmasked face of America which pays no heed to the world public opinion and defines illegitimate and illegal interests for itself wherever it wishes and creates enormous tragedies in order to achieve them," Ayatollah Khamenei added.

The aim of the US-led "destructive and oppressive war" is to occupy Iraq, dominate the region and its oil riches as well as protect the illegitimate Zionist regime of Israel, the supreme leader said.

In another part of his message, Ayatollah Khamenei urged state officials to start the new Iranian year with a "movement" to serve people and seriously fight unemployment and "financial corruption".

"The focus must be deep-rooted, enduring and immediately productive work which mostly benefits the oppressed and down-trodden classes," he said.

The work done so far to create jobs and uproot financial corruption is "praiseworthy but not sufficient", the supreme leader said, adding "the fight against unemployment and corruption must continue with full force".

Ayatollah Khamenei urged officials to refrain from bitter political rivalry and instead get down to brass tacks.

"What is accepted is (that officials) race to serve the masses. Political rivalry, accompanied by clamors and disputes in order to gain more power, is not acceptable and has no value," he added.

... Payvand News - 3/21/03 ... --

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