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Iran says ready to thwart aggression, reiterates neutrality toward Iraq crisis

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari on Sunday stressed that Iranian forces are ready to thwart any foreign aggression against the country, and reiterated Iran's position of "active neutrality" toward the Iraq crisis, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Lari, speaking at a news conference, said Iranian combatants are carefully watching out for the developments on the border with Iraq, stressing that they will definitely take action against any air or sea aggression against the country.

He said Iran continues to maintain its policy of "active neutrality" toward the Iraq crisis, stressing that the Islamic Republic is "completely neutral" in the US-led war against Iraq.

Lari stressed that Tehran had already announced its opposition to war and bloodshed before the prevailing crisis in Iraq broke out, adding that Iran's envoys in their missions to several world countries had voiced the concern of the Islamic Republic toward the consequences of a war in the region.

He highlighted the need that the Iraqi people be given the chance to determine their fate.

"Today, it seems that the only way is to let nations decide over their fates, themselves," Lari said.

"The west must let the Iraqi nation decide over the affairs of their country, and western countries must stop the US war machine, and never allow them to determine the fate of the Iraqi nation."

Lari called on the international community to stop the US war on Iraq, stressing that the UN must take the leadership in resolving the crisis.

The UN, he said, must also set the stage for the emergence of a popular and democratically-elected government.

Asked whether the US campaign against Iraq would later include countries such as Iran, North Korea or Syria, Lari said the "aggressive nature" of US leaders might fail to stop them from creating new crises.

"But there is no doubt that the modern world of today will never allow unilateralism to cross certain boundaries, and they ultimately have to follow the international public opinion," he said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Lari said members of the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) will be forgiven once they repent of their activities against the Islamic Republic.

"The fate of those who have spared no atrocity in cooperating with Saddam and have moved with him shoulder-to-shoulder would be definitely the same as that of Saddam's," he said.

"But should MKO elements repent and turn to realities, they will be certainly entitled to the Islamic Ra'fat (forgiveness)."

... Payvand News - 3/24/03 ... --

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