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Ayatollah calls for defiance

The week's news at a glance.

Tehran

Hard-liners and reformers joined this week to denounce President Bush’s criticism of the Iranian government. In a speech broadcast in Iran by Voice of America, Bush accused the reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami of continuing “uncompromising, destructive policies”—presumably a reference to funding terrorism and pursuing nuclear weapons research. Bush said the U.S. would side with the people of Iran, but not with the government. The statement marks a policy shift, The Washington Post reported, with the administration now hoping for a popular uprising that would topple both Khatami and the ruling clerics. An angry Khatami said Bush had no business meddling in Iran’s internal affairs. And supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who wields most of the nation’s real power, praised Khatami for “slapping Bush in the mouth.”

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