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Kharazi reiterates Iran will not join US-led anti-terror coalition

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Yahoo! Asia - News World

Saturday, September 29 9:17 PM SGT

Kharazi reiterates Iran will not join US-led anti-terror coalition

DAMASCUS, Sept 29 (AFP) -

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi reiterated Saturday that his country will not participate in any anti-terrorism coalition led by the United States, calling for the battle to be spearheaded by the United Nations.

Kharazi was speaking to reporters on his arrival here for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara.

"We are against terrorism and we will fight against terrorism, but we will not participate in the operations and the coalition led by the United States nor in the military component (of the operations) conducted by the United States against terrorism," he said.

"Collective international action is needed in order to eradicate this phenomenon, and we think that an international consensus can only be reached under the direction of the United Nations."

Neither Kharazi nor Shara mentioned the resolution passed unanimously Friday night by the UN Security Council obliging member states to crack down on the sources of financial and logistical support for terrorist groups.

"Islamic countries make a distinction between terrorism and liberation movements resisting occupation," Kharazi said, adding that the issue would be one of the main points discussed during the October 9 meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Qatar.

"In the Islamic and Arab worlds, nobody perceives as terrorist the Islamic resistance in Lebanon which ousted (Israeli) occupants from Lebanese soil" in May 2000, Kharazi said in reference to the fundamentalist Shiite movement Hezbollah.

For his part, Shara stressed the positions of Iran and Syria were "identical".

Damascus and Tehran "subscribe to the Arab and Islamic point of view which rejects terrorism in all its forms, including the state terrorism carried out by Israel, and which supports legitimate resistance against Israeli occupation," Shara added.

Kharazi met with Assad before leaving for Beirut, where he arrived later Saturday, a diplomatic source said.

During the talks, the two men reiterated "the need to make a distinction between terrorism and the struggle of peoples to liberate their occupied lands," the official SANA agency reported.

Syria and Iran, both swift to condemn the September 11 US terror attacks, are on the US State Department's blacklist of countries sponsoring terrorism.

In telephone talks with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Friday, Kharazi reiterated Tehran's request for the United Nations to "become the axis of the anti-terror fight so that the necessary unanimity for the campaign against this ominous phenomenon is achieved," the state news agency IRNA reported.

And Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said Tehran would not "provide any help to America or its allies in their attack" against Afghanistan, state radio reported.

Repeating Iran's call that any global movement against terrorism to be led by the United Nations, Khamenei said that in this way "the United States and other powers cannot exercise influence on it."

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