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Khamenei urges fight against US influence

TEHRAN, Nov 17 (AFP) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday urged the nation to stand strong against the political and cultural influence of the United States, state television reported.

Khamenei, speaking to thousands of people in the central city of Taffresh, echoed his oft-stated concern over "US-style" reforms which conservatives say are being pushed by President Mohammad Khatami's reformist movement.

"Those who are truly concerned about this country have to stand up against US political, economic and cultural influences," said Khamenei, who was greeted with cheers of "Death to the United States" and "Death to Israel."

"Those who try to raise the hopes of the enemy for a return to Iran with their talk, their behaviour and their politicial activities, are betraying Iran," he said.

"By leaning on Islam and our faith, the Islamic republic of Iran is determined to stand up against any enemy," he said.

Conservatives have regularly denounced what they see as American-style political reforms being promoted by the reformist movement, which won a majority in parliament in February's elections.

Khatami, who is expected to run for re-election next year, has moved to liberalise Iranian society and open up its economy, but has faced strong opposition from conservatives who control the courts, police and state media.


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