Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

In his Friday sermon today, interim Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned that "the hegemonic powers" and the International Atomic Energy Agency had laid a new trap against Iran, and said that the U.S. should hold negotiations without preconditions.

Rafsanjani, who is also Expediency Council chairman and former Iranian president, told worshippers that the IAEA had failed to adopt "an appropriate policy" despite Iran's cooperation, saying, "The agency has been swayed by the claims of America and the whole West." He added, "It is obvious that [the U.S. and the IAEA]... want to proceed in a way to be able to get more excuses. They did the same in the past and caused trouble for us and for themselves. If the agency continues in this way, it will lose its credibility among its members."

He advised the U.S. and other Western countries to quit seeking excuses against Iran and to hold negotiations without any preconditions and threats, and stressed, "Our only fault is trespassing the forbidden zone of the hegemonic powers and achieving peaceful nuclear technology."

In other matters, Rafsanjani urged the Lebanese to be committed to the agreement recently reached, and not to turn it into conflict and another opportunity for the enemy, especially Israel. He also said that the main cause of all Iraq's problems is the presence of the occupiers.

Sources: IRNA, Fars, IRIBnews, Iran, May 30, 2008

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