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Iran's President: Government making every effort to hold free, fair election

Tehran, Jan 28, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami said on Wednesday that the government is making every effort to hold free and fair election on February 20 and made it clear that he will not accept any single unjust disqualification.

He told reporters after the end of the cabinet meeting that the government is keen on holding a magnificent election, something which is possible through real competition.

"God willing, we will have free and fair election," he said. Asked about possible postponement of the election, President Khatami said, "I hope this will not happen."

Khatami expressed his objection to illegal disqualification of the nominees for the 7th Majlis elections.

On the possible delay in holding the parliamentary election, the president expressed the hope that the election will go ahead according to the schedule.

On resignation of a number of ministers, governors general and some other officials of the country, he said a group of authorities have objections towards the process of disqualification of the hopefuls. "However, our policy is to go on through understanding and to defend the nation's rights," he added.

Elections are very important in determining the country's fate, he said stressing that it is also a sign of democracy.

Stressing the government's commitments to the law, President Khatami said all Majlis deputies should be elected within the framework of the constitution.

Government and the Guardian Council enjoy mutual understanding, he said admitting however that there are some disagreements between the two sides over some cases.

On a meeting between the heads of the three branches of the government and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the president said that the Supreme Leader prefers not to get involved in the issue of elections personally.

As to a meeting between Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and senior US Senator Joseph Biden on the fringes of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he said the meeting was completely accidental and had nothing to do with negotiations between the two countries.

As to a change in the US foreign policy towards Tehran, President Khatami said if a fundamental change is observed in Washington's policies, a new situation will emerge.

According to the Foreign Ministry's press bureau, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from Delaware, "stressed the importance of Iran and the role which it can play in the sensitive and volatile region" of the Middle East.

"Joseph Biden told the Iranian foreign minister that he hoped the existing problems between the Islamic Republic of Iran and America would be removed someday," it added.

Kharrazi had a 90-minute meeting with Biden in a rare high-level contact between Tehran and Washington in full view of reporters in a lounge at the World Economic Forum.

... Payvand News - 1/28/04 ... --

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