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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 11:19 GMT
'Suspect countries' reject Bush claims
President Bush with US troops
Bush: 'America is prepared to act'
President George W Bush's public denunciation of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as "sponsors of terror" and part of an "axis of evil" has prompted angry reactions.

"We condemn the American accusations and think the world no longer accepts hegemony," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said.


With these arrogant remarks, the American Government unmasks its true face

Kamal Kharrazi,
Iranian foreign minister
Iraq accused America of practicing "state terrorism" against those who did not surrender to US demands.

Militant groups singled out in President Bush's first State of the Union address, including the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also rejected his threats that America was prepared to act against them.

While in the Philippines - which was not included in Mr Bush's list but was mentioned as a country were radical groups still hold hostages - legislators described the US president's words as "disturbing".

'Arrogant remarks'

Mr Bush said one of his goals was "to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction."

North Korea, he said, armed itself with missiles and weapons of mass destruction.


A terrorist underworld - including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e Mohammad - operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centres of large cities

President Bush
While "Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror," he said.

And "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror."

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil," Mr Bush said.

In Tehran, Kamal Kharrazi was quick to respond: "With these arrogant remarks, the American Government unmasks its true face and proves its desire to spread its hegemony through the entire world."

"Bush's objective is to divert public opinion from events in the Middle East and to prepare American public opinion for continued support for Israel in its repression if the Palestinian people," he said.

Iraq responded in a similar vein.

"The United States is the only country in the world, along with the Zionist entity, to practice state terrorism against peoples and governments that do not surrender to US wishes, under the pretext of fighting the sources of terrorism," Salem al-Qubaissi, head of the parliamentary commission on Arab and international relations told AFP news agency.

Militant rejection

Mr Bush warned that terror training camps existed in at least a dozen countries.


The United States does not have the right to accuse us of terrorism while it is carrying out terrorism every day

Islamic Jihad
"A terrorist underworld - including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e Mohammad - operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centres of large cities."

Islamic Jihad spokesman rejected Mr Bush's statement and vowed to continue the fight against Israel.

"The United States does not have the right to accuse us of terrorism while it is carrying out terrorism every day throughout the world in committing murder and destruction and by economic pillaging," Ziyad Nakhal said.

A Hamas leader also rejected the "unjust American threats, which reflect the hostility of the United States toward our people, and affirms its determination to pursue the battle against the Israeli occupation."

US 'will act'

Although Mr Bush did not name the dozen or more countries which allegedly have terror training camps, he did say that America's actions were not limited to Afghanistan.

"We now have troops in the Philippines helping to train that country's armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an American, and still hold hostages.

"Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian Government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy. Our navy is patrolling the coast of Africa to block the shipment of weapons and the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia," he said.

But Philippines Defence Minister Angelo Reyes made clear that though the American offer of help was welcomed, his country would not be forced by Washington to act against its national interest.

"We are not going to allow the United States to impose its will on us and... be coerced into doing anything against our national interest," he said.

President Bush has said he hopes all nations heed his call. "If they do not act, America will."

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