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Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 06:52 GMT
Khatami urges mass anti-US protests
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami
Khatami said Bush's remarks were 'insulting'
President Mohammed Khatami of Iran has urged Iranians to take part in rallies on Monday in response to recent threatening language from President George W Bush.

The reformist leader said it was more important than ever for Iranians to join demonstrations marking the founding of Iran's Islamic republic, "given the baseless, erroneous and insulting statements against Iran" by the US.

Anyone who attacks this country and threatens its interests will face this nation's harsh and regrettable response

Ayatollah Khamenei
President Khatami's call, broadcast on Iranian television, comes amid heightened tension between Iran and America after George Bush described Iran as part of an "axis of evil".

Last week, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the US that it would regret any action it launched upon his country.

In his televised address, President Khatami said "all levels of the population will join hands, without partisan considerations, and will come to show their fidelity to the revolution" on Monday, 23 years after the overthrow of the shah.

The president said Mr Bush's remarks "were insulting to the Iranian nation and the Iranian people".

Iran 'on notice'

In his State of the Union speech on 29 January President Bush accused Iran of "aggressively" pursuing weapons of mass destruction and exporting terror.

Iranian demonstrators burn American flag
US-Iranian relations have been frozen since 1979

Days later, Mr Bush said Iran was "on notice" and America was prepared to take action to make her and her allies more secure.

Recently, Iranian politicians and religious leaders have been calling for Iranians to turn out en masse to show their support for the regime.

State media has called for Iranians to use the occasion to give the US a metaphoric "punch in the face".

Iranian parliamentary Speaker Mehdi Karubi, a supporter of President Khatami, urged Iranians to participate "even if they are political or ideological opponents of the regime".

On Thursday, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned that "anyone who attacks this country and threatens its interests will face this nation's harsh and regrettable response".

See also:

07 Feb 02 | Middle East
Iran warns US against attack
06 Feb 02 | Americas
Analysis: The 'axis of evil' debate
06 Feb 02 | Americas
US softens line on 'evil axis'
31 Jan 02 | Middle East
Iran lashes out at Bush
30 Jan 02 | Americas
'Suspects' condemn Bush speech
30 Jan 02 | Americas
Iran accuses Bush of war-mongering
30 Jan 02 | Americas
Bush warns on terror
19 Jan 02 | South Asia
US warns Iran on Afghan militants
27 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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