SLUG: 2-281041 Iran / Coalition (L only)
TITLE=IRAN / COALITION (L O)
INTRO: Iran will not provide help to the United States in a possible attack on Afghanistan. That announcement came Wednesday from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. VOA's Greg LaMotte has this report from Cairo.
TEXT: Appearing on Iranian state television Ayatollah Khamenei said, quote, "Iran will provide no help to America and its allies in an attack on suffering, neighboring, Muslim Afghanistan."
At the same time Ayatollah Khamenei condemned terrorism saying Iran is neither with the United States, nor with the terrorists.
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami also condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States, but he too said Iran would not get involved with the U-S-led coalition.
President Khatami said he objected to President Bush's statement that countries are either with the United States or with the terrorists. Mr. Khatami called that approach arrogant.
Walid Kaziha is a political science professor at American University in Cairo. He says Iran's decision not to provide help should have little influence on Arab countries. But these countries, he says, also have limits on what they believe they can do.
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I have no doubt that Saudi Arabia will provide information, even Egypt will do that and other Arab countries would tolerate such a level of cooperation between some Arabs and the U-S. But if it goes beyond this, I think it may create a rift among the Arab countries and, more important, it may create rifts between the peoples in some of these Arab countries and their governments.
/// END ACT ///
Other Arab and Gulf state countries have announced support for the U-S-led effort but few have indicated that they plan to participate directly.
Wednesday's statements by Iran's leaders follow comments Monday by U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said Iran should stop its support for terrorism if it wanted to be a part of the U-S-led coalition searching for those responsible for the September 11th attacks in the United States. (Signed)
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