Press attacks Rafsanjani

For the second day, Iran's President Hashemi Rafsanjani was yesterday the subject of concerted attacks from the radical dailies known for their allegiance to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic regime.

Thecore of criticism revolves around Mr Rafsanjani's defence, during his press conference three days ago, of the trade links with the United States, relations with Egypt and the state of the Iranian economy.

Answering a question from the radical afternoon daily Keyhan, about the Iran's 'huge' trade with the US and the presence of 'Coca Cola, the symbol of the US-led Western decadence and corruption', President Rafsanjani defended the trade as 'very important' and labelled as 'populism' the charges against Coca Cola.

The first attack came from the morning dailies Jomhuri Eslami, which belongs to Ayatollah Khamenei and Resalat, close to the conservative mullahs and bazaris, as both reminded the embattled president that in the present world 'trade was not separate from politics and diplomacy'.

'Why should we have trade links with the US while the markets of Europe and Asia are open to us? Why should we have any link with the Great Satan when our delegations are humiliated at the US airports, while the US is pushing with the embargo against Islamic Iran? Does a currency- short country like Iran need Coke?' said Resalat.

Jomhuri Eslami criticised the Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, on his meetings with the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, at the Non Aligned Movement ministerial conference in Cairo.