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Iran Condemns Bush Speech on Terrorism (AP) By NASSER KARIMI TEHRAN, Iran 02/03/04 1:04 PM)Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A60633-2005Feb3.html AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran´s supreme leader on Thursday condemned President Bush´s State of the Union address in which he accused Tehran of sponsoring terrorism, saying Washington was seeking to uproot Iran´s ruling Islamic establishment but would fail.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran, because of supporting the oppressed and confronting oppressors, is being attacked by the global tyrants," state-run television quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying.

"They (America) are trying, in a real but nonmilitary confrontation, through every possible means, to deny the talented Iranian nation of progress and deprive it of existence."

Khamenei was responding to Bush´s annual speech to Congress on Wednesday, in which he accused Iran of being "the world´s primary state sponsor of terror."

"America is like one of the big heads of a seven-headed dragon," Khamenei said. "The brains directing it are Zionist and non-Zionist capitalists who brought Bush to power to meet their own interests."

The European Union, however, welcomed Bush´s comments on cooperative diplomatic efforts concerning Iran´s nuclear program.

"To cooperate with the Americans is very important and very helpful," said Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn of Luxembourg, which holds the EU presidency. "Together, the Europeans and the Americans can put real pressure on Iran to find a solution."

Syria also rejected Bush´s charge that it sponsored terrorism, with the information minister saying the democracy that Washington seeks for the Middle East cannot come through force.

Although criticized for his stern words on Syria and Iran, Bush also won some praise in the region for calling for an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel.

South Korea, meanwhile, welcomed Bush´s softened tone toward North Korea, hoping it would help the communist country return to talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs.

Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran and is also commander in chief of the armed forces, said all U.S. presidents since 1979 have sought to overthrow Iran´s ruling establishment, but all failed one after the other.

"Bush is the fifth U.S. president seeking to uproot the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic of Iran. (Jimmy) Carter, (Ronald) Reagan and father (George H.W.) Bush and (Bill) Clinton failed. This president will also fail," Khamenei was quoted as telling students during a meeting.

He said Iran has convinced nations in the Islamic world they can defeat the Americans, whom he routinely calls "the global tyrants."

"The Iranian nation not only has confronted the global tyrants, it has also convinced the Islamic world that it´s possible to defeat the arrogance," the broadcast quoted Khamenei as saying.

In his speech, which came too late for Middle Eastern newspapers to publish, Bush said Washington was working with European allies to persuade Tehran to end its nuclear programs and stop supporting terror.

Addressing the Iranian people, he said: "As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you."

On a street in the Iranian capital, Ali Dehqani said Bush should stay out of Iran´s business.

"Bush´s comment is right somehow. The people of Iran are restricted. Iran follows nuclear technology. But it´s not his business to intervene in Iran´s affairs," the 55-year-old man said. "Also, there is no evidence of support of terrorism by Iran."

Bush´s speech amounted to "incitement and provocation against Iran," said Khaled al-Maeena, editor of the Saudi newspaper Arab News. He described the policy as "wrong and dangerous."

Ayed al-Manna, columnist in the Al-Watan daily in Kuwait, said Bush´s words to the Iranians were "dangerous" and he feared such a move would lead to bloodshed. The Iranian regime is strong and it would be "better to talk to it and develop the democracy already in place," he said.

Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the foreign policy committee in the State Duma, the lower house, said Bush´s characterization of Iran as the main center of world terrorism showed that his speech was "written by propagandists, not analysts."

Bush said America will work with friends in the region to fight terrorism while encouraging a higher standard of freedom. He said Syria allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by "terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace" in the region.

"We expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom," Bush said.

Syrian Information Minister Mehdi Dakhlallah rejected the accusations, telling Al-Jazeera Arab satellite television that "everyone knows that Syria is cooperating in fighting terrorism."

Syria has cooperated with the West on tracking down al-Qaida supporters but has rejected U.S. calls to crack down on Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas who operate in southern Lebanon. Washington labels the Palestinian and Lebanese groups as terrorists.

The United States also accuses Syria of allowing insurgents to cross its border into Iraq, claims that Syria denies.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bushra Kanafani said Damascus "is working to do everything in its power to control" its border with Iraq.

Dakhlallah said Bush´s remarks about an independent Palestinian state were positive.

"Freedoms cannot be exported by tanks and planes, death and destruction," he said. "The characteristics of the region and the distinctiveness of its peoples and cultures must be understood," he said.

Bush also called on Saudi Arabia and Egypt to take steps toward democracy, words that some considered interference.

"We thank Mr. Bush, but we are already having elections," said al- Maeena of Arab News. He referred to the staging later this month of Saudi Arabia´s first municipal elections in 45 years.

"I don´t believe we need Mr. Bush to advise us," he said. "This is an internal issue and we are working on it."

Bush only briefly mentioned North Korea during his address, saying Washington was "working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions."

That was a stark contrast to his speech three years ago, when he branded North Korea part of an "axis of evil" with Iran and Iraq.

The absence of hostile rhetoric raised hopes for a positive response from North Korea. Analysts have said the North was waiting to see what Bush would say in the speech.

"We assess that President Bush´s speech reflected Washington´s will to resolve the North´s nuclear issue through a peaceful and diplomatic way," South Korea´s Foreign Ministry said. "Now, it´s time for North Korea to make a positive response and for us to resume the six-party talks soon and make concrete progress for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue."

After the speech, Bush spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and agreed that it was important to communicate to Pyongyang "that the world was serious about the North Korean problem," Japan´s Foreign Ministry said.

Since 2003, the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia have held three rounds of talks on the North´s nuclear weapons programs, with no significant progress reported. A fourth round of talks scheduled for September was canceled because North Korea refused to attend. (Copyright 2005 Associated Press. 02/03/05)


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