The Frankfurt Book Fair says the Iranian government has canceled plans for a national stand at this year's event to protest a planned appearance by British author Salman Rushdie.

Rushdie is to appear at a news conference Tuesday ahead of the annual fair's opening. The author spent years in hiding with heavy security after his novel "The Satanic Verses" drew a death edict from Iran's religious authorities.

Fair director Juergen Boos said Monday that he regrets the cancellation by Iran's culture ministry and hopes this year's absence of an Iranian national stand will only be "a short interruption." But he added that free speech "is not negotiable."

Book fair organizers said a few Iranian publishers are still expected at this year's event.