Iran''s Khamenei blasts ''cancerous'' Israel

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Tehran, Feb 21 (AFP) Iran''s supreme leader AyatollahAli Khamenei blasted "cancerous" Israel today, a day after itspremier Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the planned passage ofIranian warships through the Suez Canal.

"The fake Zionist government is a cancerous tumor andthe cause of different diseases and political, economiccalamity in the region," the commander-in-chief of Iran toldofficials while marking the anniversary of the birth of theProphet Mohammed which in the Shiite calendar fell on Monday.

"The arrogance (Iran''s standard term of abuse for theUnited States) is doing its best to preserve this warmongeringtumor, but today the hatred of regional nations towards thiscancerous tumor is more evident," state television quoted himas saying.

Khamenei''s remarks come as two Iranian warships areset to pass through the Suez Canal -- first time since the1979 Islamic revolution -- which has raised concerns inarch-foe Israel.

Netanyahu denounced the naval deployment on Sunday,saying: "Today we are witnessing the instability of the regionin which we live and in which Iran is trying to profit byextending its influence by dispatching two warships to crossthe Suez Canal.

"Israel views with gravity this Iranian initiativeand other developments that reinforce what we have said inpast years about Israel''s security needs," he added.

The passage of ships has been put back to Wednesday.

Egypt gave its green light on Friday for patrol frigate Alvandand support ship Khard to transit the canal into theMediterranean headed for Syria.

The okay came a week after the fall of Egyptianpresident Hosni Mubarak, a longstanding US ally in the region.

The 1,500-tonne Alvand is normally armed withtorpedoes and anti-ship missiles, while the larger33,000-tonne Kharg has a crew of 250 and facilities for up tothree helicopters, Iran''s Fars news agency has said.

Both ships were built in Britain during the 1970sfor Iran, which ordered them before the Islamic revolution.

Earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Minister AvigdorLieberman called the transiting of the ships a "provocation."

But an Iranian diplomat said it was a routine visitin line with cooperation between Iran and Syria.

The animosity between Iran and Israel has grownunder the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (AFP)

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