Iran General NewsIran’s top cleric calls for boycott of peace talks

Iran’s top cleric calls for boycott of peace talks

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New York Times: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Saturday for all Muslim countries to boycott an American-sponsored meeting for Middle East peace that is planned for late November. The New York Times

By STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: October 14, 2007

JERUSALEM, Oct. 13 — Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Saturday for all Muslim countries to boycott an American-sponsored meeting for Middle East peace that is planned for late November.

“Efforts are being made to once again make an imposition on the Palestinian people in the name of peace,” said Ayatollah Khamenei in a sermon marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, giving it special significance. “The result of all conferences held in the name of peace so far have been to the detriment of the Palestinian nation.”

The ayatollah is Iran’s supreme authority, outranking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power and credibility. But both share the view that the state of Israel has no right to exist, and Iran has consistently opposed all Palestinian-Israeli peace accords.

Iran is also the main sponsor of Hezbollah, the radical Islamic Shiite group in southern Lebanon that fought a war with Israel last summer. Furthermore, Iran is a major sponsor of Hamas, the radical Palestinian Sunni group that runs Gaza, and the prime sponsor of Islamic Jihad, a smaller radical grouping that has opposed any cease-fire with Israel.

On Friday, Hamas leaders in Gaza and in Damascus also called on the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, to boycott the meeting.

Talks between Mr. Abbas and the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, are expected to intensify on Sunday with the arrival in Israel of the American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. The international meeting to bless the results of these talks was Ms. Rice’s idea, and the American intention is to invite Arab nations that support a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Washington is also expected to invite Sunni Syria, which is considered in a loose alliance with Iran. But Syria has said it will not attend the meeting, reportedly to be held at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., beginning on Nov. 26, unless there is a substantive document that embodies concrete decisions leading toward a Palestinian state.

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