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Iran slams U.S. at conference on fighting terrorism

A battered Peugeot sedan greeted visitors Saturday to a conference hall in north Tehran.

“Professor Massoud Ali Mohammadi, martyred in front of his house,” explained an accompanying poster. It was a reference to the mysterious assassination last year of the Iranian physicist, killed when a bomb exploded near his car in Tehran. Iranian authorities have blamed the West for the killing.

The Peugeot was the symbolic scene-setter for a two-day conference in the Iranian capital on fighting terrorism. According to the Iranian media, officials from more than 60 countries and several heads of state flew in for the talks — among them Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.

The event was heavy on U.S.-bashing, generally reflecting Tehran’s views about Washington’s policy in the region.

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In a message to the conference, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the U.S. for drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The attacks, he said, have “repeatedly” turned “wedding parties into mourning ceremonies.” He echoed the official Iranian line that the U.S. and its allies are hypocrites, employing terrorist tactics that kill civilians while condemning others as terrorists.

“The United States, Britain and some Western governments, with a black record in terrorist behavior, have now added to their rhetoric the claim of fighting terrorism,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Fars News Agency.

Later, Khamenei warned visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the United States had no intention of leaving Afghanistan. “Real security will not be established as long as American troops are in Afghanistan,” state TV quoted him as saying. On Wednesday, President Obama announced that 33,000 U.S. troops would be pulled out of the country by the end of next summer.

At the forum, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani revealed that Iran and Iraq had formed a joint plan with the International Committee of the Red Cross to shut down Iraq’s Camp Ashraf, which is home to thousands of opponents of the Iranian regime. Tehran has pressured Baghdad to hand over members of the militant group, despite protests from Iranian dissident groups and others that the camp residents could face reprisals in Iran.

An Iranian opposition organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has urged the Red Cross to disassociate itself from the plan, which it says is “in direct violation of international law.”

Sudanese President Bashir made a quick appearance at the podium, slamming Israel and the United States for “supporting terrorism,” before jetting off on a trip to China, according to a journalist in his entourage.

Special correspondent Mostaghim reported from Tehran and special correspondent Sandels from Beirut. Times Staff Writer Patrick J. McDonnell in Beirut contributed to this report.


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