AFP: A top cleric vowed on Friday that "Death to America" will continue to be chanted in Iran for as long as the United States maintains what he called its arrogant stance towards the Islamic republic.
TEHRAN (AFP) — A top cleric vowed on Friday that "Death to America" will continue to be chanted in Iran for as long as the United States maintains what he called its arrogant stance towards the Islamic republic.
"Statesmen in the United States should know that as long as they keep their arrogant attitude towards Iran the slogan of our people will remain the same and will not change," hardliner Ahmad Khatami said in a Friday prayer sermon carried live on state radio.
"Our people's slogan of hatred, which is death to America, will continue to be heard," added Khatami, a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts that selects and supervises the supreme leader's activities.
Khatami was appointed one of Tehran's Friday prayer leaders by Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
The cleric also advised US president-elect Barack Obama not to follow in the footsteps of incumbent President George W. Bush when he enters the White House on January 20.
"Bush's 47-year-old successor should know that if he follows the same wrong path Bush has taken then he will reach the same wrong destiny," Khatami said.
"A big 'no' to Bush and his arrogant policies was the clear message to come from the US presidential elections."
Four days ago, foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said that Iran was not expecting any great difference in Washington's policy towards Tehran when Obama takes over.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quick to congratulate Obama after his election victory on November 4, an unprecedented move by an Iranian leader after nearly three decades of severed ties between Washington and Tehran.
Obama said he would would review Ahmadinejad's letter "and we will respond appropriately."
Early in his election campaign, Obama said he favoured unconditional direct talks with Tehran, accused by the West of secretly developing nuclear weapons, but he has since hardened his position.
Tehran denies seeking to manufacture an atomic bomb through its controversial programme of uranium enrichment, maintaining that it wants only to produce electricity for a growing population.
Khamenei, who has the final say in the country's major policies, has yet to react to Obama's election, but ahead of the poll in the United States he said his country's hatred of Washington remained deep-rooted.
The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since Islamist students took American diplomats hostage for 444 days following the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.