Iran General NewsIran's supreme leader affirms policies

Iran’s supreme leader affirms policies

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Los Angeles Times: Iran’s supreme leader gave a ringing endorsement Saturday to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy, suggesting that Iran’s top authority favors an ultraconservative, hard-line bloc over moderate elements seeking rapprochement with the West. The Los Angeles Times

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorses a politically shaky Ahmadinejad’s foreign, nuclear and gas rationing policies.

By Borzou Daragahi, Times Staff Writer

CAIRO — Iran’s supreme leader gave a ringing endorsement Saturday to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy, suggesting that Iran’s top authority favors an ultraconservative, hard-line bloc over moderate elements seeking rapprochement with the West.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the final arbiter of political, military and religious decisions in Iran’s government, which melds elements of a boisterous democratic republic with a clerical autocracy.

Ahmadinejad’s policies have spawned discontent across the political spectrum. His allies suffered deep losses in December municipal elections, and a loose coalition of moderate conservatives and reformists has begun to gel against him.

But Khamenei, with Ahmadinejad sitting next to him on the podium, backed the government’s hard-line course, including its ambitious foreign policy.

Iran has ignored demands by the United Nations Security Council to halt its uranium enrichment program. It backs Hezbollah in Lebanon and has been accused of providing material and moral support to armed groups in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

“As regards foreign policy, the Islamic Republic of Iran has always adopted an aggressive stance, and changing this policy into a defensive position, which has unfortunately happened sometimes, is wrong,” Khamenei said in a meeting with the president, Cabinet ministers and governors in Tehran, the capital, according to the Fars News Agency.

Khamenei said Iran would continue to develop advanced nuclear technology without regard to the “hues and cries” of foreign powers, according to Fars. The United States and Europe worry that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons under the guise of building a civilian energy program. Iran denies that.

He said nothing about whether Tehran would agree to a U.S.-European offer to not implement new sanctions against Iran if it halted expansion of its nuclear program. But Ahmadinejad said Iran would continue a “policy of resistance” to Western pressure.

Khamenei rejected Bush administration accusations that Iran was meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There is no doubt about the hatred of the Iranian nation and government for the U.S. administration, but the root cause of the United States’ present problems is placed somewhere else,” he said.

“Instead of paying attention to the root cause of the issue — that is, the Muslim nations’ lack of cooperation and hatred for the U.S. — Americans are accusing the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Khamenei said.

He depicted Iran as a victim of Western policies, such as the use of chemical weapons against Iran during its war in the 1980s with Iraq, which then was supported by many Western governments. He also criticized the proliferation of Western culture, including racy images that slip into Iran via the Internet and satellite television.

“The world owes many answers to Iran [on”> women’s issues, domestic war and weapons production, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the promotion of sexual lust,” he said.

Khamenei also backed the Ahmadinejad government’s decision to ration the sales of subsidized gasoline. The program’s kickoff Wednesday morning sparked riots throughout the country and led to dozens of arrests.

Khamenei said the government acted “bravely” in implementing the plan, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

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