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Khatami Meets Guardian Council Over Election Ban

Tehran, 17 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi met with the Guardians Council today to try to resolve a deadlock over the council's ban on more than 3,000 candidates who want to run for parliamentary seats.

The conservative council blocked the candidates -- including some 80 current pro-reform parliamentarians -- from participating in elections next month.

Khatami made no comments after the meeting, but the state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying the parliament is best-suited to settle the law and supervise "all pillars of society."

The Interior Ministry said earlier today it will hold the poll only if it is satisfied that candidates had not been unfairly barred.

Meanwhile, a group of pro-reform deputies continued for the seventh day a sit-in at the parliament building and started their first day of a hunger strike in protest over the ban of the candidates.