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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April, 2003, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Iran rejects US say in Iraq
Iranian army officers listen to a speech
A parade is planned for Friday's Army Day
Iran is planning a display of military might as its leaders call on coalition forces to leave its neighbour, Iraq.

Army chief Major-General Muhammad Salimi said Iran was at its highest state of preparedness and there would be a mass parade to mark Army Day on Friday.

But President Mohammad Khatami has said he does not believe the US will instigate further military action in the region, where both Iran and Syria have been described by US President George W Bush as members of an "axis of evil".

The Iranian leader also said that his country would not recognise any US-installed administration in Baghdad.

"If the Iraqi regime had been toppled by the Iraqi people themselves, we would have organised a big feast in Iran, but occupation of Iraq is a violation of international regulations," Mr Khatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"We will not recognise any administration other than an all-Iraqi government.

"However, we are not seeking tension or confrontation with anybody."

A retired US army officer, General Jay Garner, has been chosen by Washington to lead an interim Iraqi administration and has begun talks with opponents of Saddam Hussein on shaping a post-war government.

Backing for Syria

Mr Khatami said Iraqis would not accept any foreign rule and called for an "administration representing all Iraqi ethnic and religious groups" to be installed there.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
President Khatami called on the US to respect other nations
This should be followed, in the long term, by a "government elected on the basis of one vote for each Iraqi citizen".

The Iranian leader also backed Syria - another country criticised by the US.

But he said there were no Iranian plans to assist it militarily, adding that he did not believe the US would seek to use force against other Middle Eastern countries.

On Tehran's long-strained relations with Washington, he said:

"We have big problems with America but we don't welcome tensions either."

President Khatami said he hoped other nations would stop any repetition of events in Iraq and urged the US to learn to respect other countries and live with them in peace.


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