TEHRAN, Oct 13: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged Muslim nations to boycott a Middle East peace meeting in the US.

“The United States took the initiative for this meeting to save the Zionist regime, which received a beating at the hands of Hezbollah,” he told a crowd of hundreds of thousands at Iran’s Grand Mosque on Saturday.

“Every conference that has been organised in the name of peace has harmed the Palestinians,” he said in his speech on Eidul Fitr.

“As the Palestinians themselves are not participating in this conference, how can the others do so,” he asked, as the crowd chanted ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’.

He made no reference to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who will be attending the meeting, expected next month.

Referring to Hamas, which has called for a boycott of the talks, he said the “Palestinian people put in power a government that has made resistance its leading slogan and, despite all pressure, the Palestinian government and people continue to resist. I counsel our Palestinian brothers not to confront each other, because the enemy is in their house.”

“When Palestinians consider this conference as deceitful and refuse to participate, how can Muslim countries take part in that?” Ayatollah Khamenei said in the sermon broadcast live on state media.

“Other (Muslim) countries also should consider it a deceitful conference.”

The United States is optimistic Palestinians and Israelis will agree to a joint document on the tough issues that divide them before the conference in November.

Negotiations on core issues such as the borders of a Palestinian state and the future of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees broke down in 2001 amid surging violence.

“Under the name of seizing peace, Americans are trying to impose their will on Palestinians. This conference’s aim is to rescue the Zionist regime (Israel),” Khamenei said.

—Agencies

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