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Iran's President Complains of Back Pains, Postpones Cabinet Meeting - 2004-01-31

Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, became ill Saturday with a sudden bout of back pain. The president's condition has forced him to put off an emergency meeting with his cabinet, in which he was to discuss with colleagues the next step in Iran's political standoff between reformists and conservatives. Mr. Khatami decided to postpone the cabinet meeting, citing back pain that took hold shortly after he visited the shrine of the late Ayatollah Khomeini for a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the day Iran's Islamic Revolution began.

Earlier in the day, Iran's state news agency quoted the president as saying he'd reached a dead-end with conservatives over Iran's election crisis.

The political turmoil began almost three weeks ago, when Iran's hard-line Islamic Guardian Council banned more than 3,600 of the some 8,000 candidates from seeking office in the February 20 parliamentary election. Most of those banned were reformists.

The council announced Friday it had reinstated only about 1,100 of the previously barred candidates, and it refused reformist pleas to postpone the vote.

Dozens of reformist government officials have threatened to resign, and many are calling for a boycott of the election.