Posted by Stella from ? (220.127.116.11) on Thursday, April 03, 2003 at 10:37AM :
Iran's Khatami Warns Iraq War Will Fuel Extremism
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami warned on Thursday that the U.S.-led military assault on Iraq would increase violence and extremism in the world.
Shi'ite Iran, while no friend of Baghdad's ruling government, opposes the war on its western neighbor led by its sworn enemy, the United States, and is wary of the installation of a U.S.-backed government in Iraq.
"With this war you are giving a green light to extremist movements and violence-seekers to answer back your violence with violence," the official IRNA news agency quoted Khatami as saying in a speech.
"The result of this war is the death of innocent people and circulating and strengthening extremism and violence," he said.
Iran, which fought an eight-year war against Iraq in the 1980s, has adopted a neutral stance on the conflict.
Speaking in Iran's Kish Island in the northern Gulf, Khatami expressed sadness over the deaths on both sides of the war.
"I feel sorry for the oppressed Iraqi people whose youth are being sacrificed for some people who are sitting in their safe palaces," he said.
"We also feel sorry for the killed young American and British soldiers who came from another part of the world to war because of the wrong policies and motives of those who seek power."
He called for an international effort to stop the war which he said was driven by "Zionist lobbies" and warned that the consequences could be "worse than the Vietnam catastrophe."
"Nobody is defending the Iraqi regime. We support Iraq's integrity and national unity. Neither foreign powers nor a dictator have the right to rule the Iraqi nation," he said.
Included by President Bush last year as part of an "axis of evil" alongside Iraq and North Korea, Iran has been a sworn enemy of the United States since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
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