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Ahmadinejad describes foreign forces in region as an affront to sovereignty

Iran's president says no foreign power would dare to think of invading and calls the presence of foreign forces in the region an "affront to the sovereignty and dignity of the countries of the region".

TEHRAN // Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yesterday said that no foreign power would dare to think of invading Iran and called the presence of foreign forces in the region an "affront to the sovereignty and dignity of the countries of the region". His remarks were given in a speech at the grounds of the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, where an annual military parade held to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the breakout of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war was overshadowed by the news that seven people were killed in an air force plane crash.

News agencies reported that the plane was part of the air show, but the Iranian military denied that, saying the plane crashed while on a training flight, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Seyed Hossein Naghavi, the representative for Varamin in parliament, was quoted by Borna News as saying that witnesses confirmed the explosion of a plane in the air before it crashed to the ground. According to Mr Naghavi, the military plane crashed at 7.45am local time near Vali Abad village in Varamin, 35km south-east of Tehran.

In his speech, Mr Ahmadinejad demanded that foreign forces "return to their countries and use their huge military spendings to resolve the problems of their own people". He said foreign forces sought to divide the region and had sold weapons worth several times Iran's budget while claiming they were trying to establish security. Accusing the US-led forces of endangering the security and peace of mind of the people of the region, Mr Ahmadinejad said tens of thousands of people had been killed or forced to flee their homes as a result of the intervention of foreign forces.

He said that their operations had helped multiply terrorist activities in those countries as well as increase Afghanistan's drug production. "As you witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan, people are against the presence of foreigner troops. It is impossible for them to have a stable base in these places," he said. The Iranian president called the main strategy of the country's armed forces "defensive and deterrent" and said "any hand, in any part of the world, that attempts to pull a trigger against Iran will be powerfully cut off from the arm by Iran's armed forces".

The statement reflects Iran's concerns that Israel or the United States could target it in an attempt to remove its nuclear facilities. The US says Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, but Tehran denies the charge saying its programme is meant for peaceful purposes. Mr Ahmadinejad, who after the parade left for New York to attend the UN General Assembly, said the US-led forces in the region needed to "change their attitude and thoughts in favour of humanity and human values".

msinaiee@thenational.ae

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