January 1998, Week 1
|Transcript of interview with Iranian President||Jan 7|
|Khatami suggests warmer relations with U.S.||Jan 7|
|Iran Leader Backs Closer U.S. Ties||Jan 7|
|Pakistani Special Envoy Leaves For Tehran||Jan 6|
|Iran's Khatami to break ground with CNN interview||Jan 6|
|Iran Leader Wants U.S. Relationship||Jan 5|
|Iranian Press Stages Rare Protest||Jan 5|
|Popular U.S. novels find fans in Iran||Jan 3|
|Iran Not about to Start Dialogue with US||Jan 3|
|IRAN's Freedom Movement Accused||Jan 3|
|Iranian MP Sets Conditions on Normalization||Jan 3|
|Khamenei Says Iran Seeks No Rapprochement with US||Jan 2|
|Hard-Line Cleric Says US Intent on Destabilizing Iran||Jan 2|
|First Presidential Good-Wish Cable Between Iran||Jan 1|
Transcript of interview with Iranian President
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, a month ago you announced
that you had a historic message to deliver to the
people of America. I understand that message will
take the form of a short address and then we'll
discuss the issues.|
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. At the outset, I would like to congratulate all free and noble women and men especially the followers of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), on the occasion of the New Year. I take as a good omen the concurrence of the Christian New Year with the Islamic month of Ramadan, the month of edification and self-restraint that has been the goal of all divine prophets.
We are at the close of the 20th century, leaving behind a century full of inequality, violence, and conflict. We pray to the Almighty to enable us to begin a new century of humanity, understanding, and durable peace, so that all humanity would enjoy the blessings of life. Once again I would like to present my felicitations to all the followers of Jesus Christ, to all human beings, and particularly to the American people.
I have said earlier that I respect the great
American people. In this short span of time, I
wish to briefly present my analysis of the
American civilization so that my remarks would not
be taken as political nicety or a mere play on
The American civilization is founded upon the vision, thinking, and manners of the Puritans. Certainly, others such as adventurers, those searching for gold, and even sea pirates, also arrived in the U.S. But the American nation has never celebrated their arrival and never considered it to be the beginning of their civilization. The Puritans constituted a religious sect whose vision and characteristics, in addition to worshipping God, was in harmony with republicanism, democracy, and freedom. They found the European climate too restrictive for the implementation of their ideas and thoughts.
Unfortunately, in the 16th, 17th, and even 18th centuries, there was a serious clash between religion and liberty. In my opinion, one of the biggest tragedies in human history is this confrontation between religion and liberty which is to the detriment of religion, liberty, and the human beings who deserve to have both. The Puritans desired a system which combined the worship of God and human dignity and freedom.
This civilization was founded in New England and gradually spread to the entire America and it even clashed with certain evil trends which has caused slavery in certain states and ultimately succeeded in abolishing slavery. There were numerous martyrs who gave their lives for this cause, the most famous of which was Abraham Lincoln, the strong and fair-minded American president.
This civilization is best described by the renowned French sociologist Alexi de Toqueville who spent some two years in the U.S. in the 19th century and wrote the valuable book entitled Democracy in America, which I am sure most Americans have read. This book reflects the virtuous and human side of this civilization. In his view, the significance of this civilization is in the fact that liberty found religion as a cradle for its growth, and religion found protection of liberty as its divine calling. Therefore, liberty and faith never clashed. And as we see, even today Americans are a religious people. Therefore, the Anglo-American approach to religion relies on the principle that religion and liberty are consistent and compatible. I believe that if humanity is looking for happiness, it should combine religious spirituality with the virtues of liberty.
And it is for this reason that I say I respect the American nation because of their great civilization. This respect is due to two reasons: the essence and pillars of the Anglo-American civilization and the dialogue among the civilizations.
You are cognizant of the great heritage of the Iranian nation with its glorious civilization and culture. Irans glorious civilization was concurrent with the Greek city states and the Roman Empire. After the advent of Islam, the Iranians ardently embraced it. The blend of Iranian talents and the sublime Islamic teachings was a miracle. Without intending to deny the share of other nations in the formation of the Islamic civilization, I believe the great Iranian civilization had a major role in developing and promoting the Islamic system.
Over the past two centuries, the Iranian nation has striven to establish liberty, independence and a noble way of life. The Constitutional Movement colonialism. Ultimately, the Islamic Revolution had-and should have-two directions: First, an interpretation of religion which couples religiosity with liberty. Of course, now that four centuries have passed since the beginning of the American civilization, human experience has taught us that prosperous life should hinge on three pillars: religiosity, liberty, and justice. These are the assets and aspirations of the Islamic Revolution as it enters the 21st century.
In terms of the dialogue of civilizations, we intend to benefit from the achievements and experiences of all civilizations, Western and non-Western, and to hold dialogue with them. The closer the pillars and essences of these two civilizations are, the easier the dialogue would become. With our revolution, we are experiencing a new phase of reconstruction of civilization. We feel that what we seek is what the founders of the American civilization were also pursuing four centuries ago. This is why we sense an intellectual affinity with the essence of the American civilization.
Second, there is the issue of the independence. The American nation was the harbinger of independence struggles, the initiator of efforts to establish independence, for whose cause it has offered many sacrifices, leading ultimately to the Declaration of Independence which is an important document on human dignity and rights.
Finally, I should refer to the struggles of the Iranian people over the last two centuries which culminated in the quest for independence during the Islamic Revolution launched by Imam Khomeini. When Imam Khomeini launched the revolution, Iran was in a terrible condition. In other words, the Iranian nation had been humiliated and its fate was decided by others. You know that a remarkable feature of Imam Khomeinis struggle was his fight against capitulation which the Shah was forced to ratify making the American advisors immune from prosecution in Iran. This was the worst humiliation for our people. They rose up, fought for independence, and emerged victorious. Of course, the war of the revolution was one of words not weapons. We, therefore, endeavored to obtain a novel experience of religion and to gain independence. Both these features are salient in the American civilization and we feel close to them.
But here I have to express pity over a tragedy which has occurred. Unfortunately, policies pursued by American politicians outside the United States over the past half a century since World War II are incompatible with the American civilization which is founded on democracy, freedom and human dignity. We ardently wished that those who enforced this foreign policy were representatives of the prominent American civilization; a civilization which was achieved at a heavy cost, and not the representatives of those adventurers who were defeated by the American people themselves.
This flawed policy of domination had three setbacks: One was severe damages that it incurred upon the deprived and oppressed nations, including our own. The other setback was that it dashed the hopes of the people of the colonized world, who had placed their trust in the U.S. tradition of struggle for independence. When the policies for domination were implemented in the name of the American people, the nations lost their trust in the Americans. This represents a grave damage done by the U.S. policies on the American nation. The Third and most important of these setbacks is that what was implemented was done in name of a great people that had risen for freedom. I feel that the American politicians should realize this fact and adjust themselves with the standards of Anglo-American and American civilization and at least apologize to their own people because of the approach they have adopted.
AMANPOUR: You said that you wanted to use this interview to deliver a message to the American people. I've lived in America, and I know the concerns of the average American when it comes to Iran. And its the message that has come out of Iran for the last twenty years, the message; hostage taking, the message of death to America, the message of burning the American flag, the message that almost looks like Islam has declared a war against America and the west. Let me ask you first about the hostage crisis which is emblazoned in every American's mind. As you know, in all revolutions, the communist revolution in Russia, the French revolution, perhaps even the American revolution, the early years contain many excesses. Would you say that taking the American hostages, at the beginning of the Iranian Islamic revolution falls into the category of early revolutionary excesses?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Thank you for your question. I believe that first we have to analyze events within their proper context and with circumspection. The image of Islam which has been presented, and I dont want to accuse anyone here, has been an erroneous one. Islam is a religion which calls all humanity, irrespective of religion or belief, to rationality and logic. Islam invites followers of all divine religions to unite around God worship and all Muslims to fraternity. The Islam which we know and practice and founded our revolution on recognized the right of all human beings to determine their own destiny. It declares that relations among nations must be based on logic and mutual respect.
Such Islam is enemy to
no nation, enemy to no religion. It seeks
dialogue, understanding and peace with all
nations. One of the major flaws in the U.S.
foreign policy, which I recently construed as
being behind times, is that they continue to live
with cold war mentality and try to create a
perceived enemy. Here I dont wish to insult
anyone. I know that there are quite a few wise and
fair-minded statesmen in the United States, but
the outcome of the interplay with the U.S. policy
has shaped the U.S. policy in a manner that
continues to be a prisoner of cold war mentality.
With regard to the hostage issue which you raised, I do know that the feelings of the great American people have been hurt, and of course I regret it. Yet, these same feelings were also hurt when bodies of young Americans were brought back from Vietnam, but the American people never blamed the Vietnamese people, but rather blamed their own politicians for dragging their country and its youth into the Vietnam quagmire. The pressure by the American people terminated that senseless and inhuman war. In fact the American people themselves brought that war to an end.
The feelings of our people were seriously hurt by U.S. policies. And as you said, in the heat of the revolutionary fervor, things happen which cannot be fully contained or judged according to usual norms. This was the crying out of the people against humiliations and inequities imposed upon them by the policies of the U.S. and others, particularly in the early days of the revolution. With the grace of God, today our new society has been institutionalized and we have a popularly elected powerful government, and there is no need for unconventional methods of expression of concerns and anxieties. And I believe when there is logic, especially when there are receptive ears, there is no need other than discourse, debate and dialogue.
AMANPOUR: So, are you saying that despite the grievances that you talk about, with hindsight, if you had to do this all again, would Iran have done it differently at that time?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: As I said, everything must be analyzed within its own context. The events of those days must be viewed within the context of revolutionary fervor and the pressures to which the Iranian nation was subjected, causing it to seek a way to express its anxieties and concerns. Today we are in the period of stability, and fully adhere to all norms of conduct regulating relations between nations and governments.
With the grace of God, today all the affairs of country are being conducted within the framework of law. And as I have stated, both in domestic and foreign affairs, we shall endeavor to strengthen the rule of law in every respect.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, Americans, the average American, is familiar with one image of Iran, death to America, the burning of the American flag, and as we talked about, the hostages. You talk about a new chapter in relations between the peoples of the world. What can you say to the Americans listening tonight, to show that person that your Iran is a new Iran or a different Iran?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I say that these issues should
be examined with due consideration to their root
causes and various dimensions. There are slogans
being changed in Iran. But, you as a journalist
can ask all those chanting the slogans whether
they are targeting the American people. And they
would all say no. Not only we do not harbor any
ill wishes for the American people, but in fact we
consider them to be great nation. Our aim is not
even to destroy or undermine the American
government. These slogans symbolize a desire to
terminate a mode of relations which existed
between Iran and the United States.
AMANPOUR: You say that you want to talk to the
American people. Are you prepared to sit down
eventually and talk to the American government
about the issues that you have just mentioned
tonight that separate and divide you?
Firstly, I have to state that U.S. foreign policy behavior toward Iran has inflicted damages upon us. But is also had a positive effect. It caused us to mainly focus on our domestic capabilities and resources to advance our objectives. Now, too, we feel no need for ties with the U.S., especially as the modern world is so diverse and plural that we can reach our objectives without U.S. assistance. I especially feel that many progressive countries-including the Europeans- are far more advanced in their foreign policies than the U.S.. We are carrying out our own activities and have no need for political ties with the United States.
But the point is that the political behavior of governments should not deprive nations from enjoying the opportunities provided by each side. There is a bulky wall of mistrust between us and the U.S. Administration, a mistrust rooted in improper behaviors of the American governments. As an example of this type of U.S. behavior, I should refer to admitted involvement of the U.S. Government in the 1953 coup detat which toppled Mosaddeqs national government, immediately followed by a $45 million loan to strengthen unpopular foreign installed Government. I should also refer to the Capitulation Law imposed by the U.S. on Iran.
The attitude of the U.S. after the victory of the revolution has not been a civilized one. They have adopted a hostile policy against Iran. They have tried to inflict economic damage upon us, a clear example of which is the DAmato act which represents a continuation of cold war mentality and the lack of appreciation of realities to the point that they even want to impose their will upon other countries such as European countries and Japan or the allocation of the already mentioned $20 million to topple the Iranian government.
The success of our revolution has come at a great cost to our nation. And the U.S. has a major share in the cost imposed upon the Iranian nation. There is a grave mistrust between us. If negotiations are not based on mutual respect, they will never lead to positive results. The condition is that American foreign policy should abandon its instrumental rationality and stop considering adopt an approach based on communicative rationality which is inherent in the American civilization.
There must first be a crack in this wall of mistrust to prepare for a change and create an opportunity to study a new situation. Unfortunately, the behavior of American Government in the past up to this date has always exacerbated the climate of mistrust and we do not detect any sign of change of behavior.
We are looking for a world in which misunderstandings can be overcome, nations can understand one another and mutual respect and logic govern relations among states. It is the right of every nation to stand on its principles and values and have the expectation of respect and dignity from others.
AMANPOUR: Then where does this dialogue, this message to the people of the United States lead?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: When I speak of dialogue, I intend dialogue between civilizations and cultures. Such discourse should be centered around thinkers and intellectuals. I believe that all doors should now be opened for such dialogue and understanding and possibilities for contact even between American understanding between our two nations, a better future for both countries and nations may be forged.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you some specific issues that concern the people of the United States. As you know, many U.S experts say that the evidence is overwhelming, that elements of the Iranian authorities, Iranian officials, provide not only political and moral, but financial support to organizations that commit acts of terrorism, and result in the deaths of innocent women and children. If you were presented with proof and with evidence that any kind of Iranian was involved in that kind of financial support or act, what would you do about it?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: You see, this is another example of the sort of problem that exists between us and the United States. They first level unfair and unsubstantiated accusations against you. And when they propose to hold talks, they say that they want to have a dialogue with you about these very unfounded accusations. They are in fact trying to put the other side on trial.
Well, let me tell you this. We believe in the holy Quran that says: slaying of one innocent person is tantamount to the slaying of all humanity. How could such a religion, and those who claim to be its followers get involved in the assassination of innocent individuals and the slaughter of innocent human beings. We categorically reject all these allegations.
Secondly, the logic of history has proven that violence is not the way to achieve desired end. I personally believe that only those who lack logic resort to violence. Terrorism should be condemned in all its forms and manifestations; assassins must be condemned. Terrorism is useless anyway and we condemn it categorically. Those who level these charges against us are best advised to provide accurate and objective evidence, which indeed does not exist.
AMANPOUR: If you were provided with the proof that an Iranian official had used any kind of Iranian funds to reward or finance any group or individual that was involved in an act of terrorism, would you punish that person or that organization?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Certainly if I learn of any instance of such assistance to terrorism, I shall deal with it, so will our Leader, and so will our entire system. At the same time, supporting peoples who fight for the liberation of their land is not, in my opinion, supporting terrorism. It is, in fact, supporting those who are engaged in combating state terrorism. AMANPOUR: Regardless of the motive, do you believe that killing innocent women and children is terrorism, as for instance what happens on the streets of Israel?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: It is definitely so. Any form of killing of innocent men and women who are not involved in confrontations is terrorism; it must be condemned, and we, in our term, condemn every form of it in the world.
AMANPOUR: Americans say that they have reports that Iranian officials abroad regularly engage in acts of surveillance against Americans, the sort of surveillance that could be interpreted as preceeding an attack. Do you think that is appropriate?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I deny this categorically. On our part there has been no new move, no special measures with regard to the United States in external fields; this is another false rumor spread by those who bear a grudge against us.
AMANPOUR: Iran has said that it doesn't agree with the Middle East peace process. Yasser Arafat was elected as a representative of the Palestinian legitimate aims. And he has entered into a peace process. Do you think that it is appropriate for any foreign power to engage in supporting the groups that are fighting against Yasser Arafat -- the groups such as Hamas and others?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: First of all, we have declared our opposition to the Middle East peace process because we believe it will not succeed. At the same time, we have clearly said that we dont intend to impose our views on others or to stand in their way. In our view all Palestinians have the right to express their views about their land, including the millions of Palestinians in Diaspora. They too have a right to self determination. Only then can there be a lasting peace. We seek a peace through which Jews, Muslims and Christians, and indeed each and every Palestinian, could freely determine their own destiny. And we are prepared to contribute towards the realization of that peace.
But let me elaborate a little for the American people on my views about U.S. Middle East policy. Anti-semitism is indeed a western phenomenon. It has no precedence in Islam or in the east. Jews and Muslims have lived harmoniously together for centuries. In the east, we have had despotism and dictatorship, but never had fascism or nazism. These, too, are also western phenomena, and the west has paid dearly to combat them. What concerns me is that, first, this western anti-semitism has turned into a tool for the imposition of a whole range of improper policies and practices on the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general. Secondly, I am concerned that this western dilemma may be projected elsewhere, that is fascism and nazism are suppressed in the west, they may resurface in another form in western policies elsewhere.
Obviously, Washington is the U.S. capital where
policy decision on U.S. national interests must be
made. However, the impression of the people of the
Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain
foreign policy decisions of the U.S. are in fact
made in Tel Aviv and not in Washington. And I
regret to say that the improper American policy of
unbridled support for the aggressions of a racist
terrorist regime does not serve U.S. interests,
nor does it even serve that of the Jewish people.
Zionists constitute a small portion of the Jewish
people and have openly declared and proven in
practice that they are expansionist. The Israeli
intransigence in the course of the current peace
process, and its failure to honor its own
undertakings has enraged even U.S. allies in the
The subject of Middle East peace is one that needs a sober and pragmatic analysis. We believe that it will not succeed, because it is not just and it does not address the rights of all parties in an equitable manner. We are prepared to contribute to an international effort to bring about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you know another concern of the west is Iran's nuclear program. Would you consider entering a special agreement, a special sort of situation with the atomic energy agency, for special monitoring, if that would lessen the fears of the people you say you want to have a better dialogue with?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: We are a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The official representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency have inspected our facilities in Iran several times, and have publicly declined that we are not planning on building nuclear weapons and only aim to employ nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It is ironic that those who are so concerned about saving humanity from nuclear weapons, fully support Israel which is a nuclear power and is unwilling to join the NPT or accept IAEA safeguards, while leveling allegations against Iran which has not even been able to complete its first nuclear power plant which began before the revolution. These are all pretexts for imposing certain policies on Iran and the region and to create panic and mistrust. We are not a nuclear power and do not intend to become one. We have accepted IAEA safeguards and our facilities are routinely inspected by that agency.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you are the president of Iran. You have made certain promises to the people of Iran, and now you have said certain things about dialogue with other countries. Can you implement your promises to the people of Iran? Do you have the authority and the room to maneuver? And in foreign policy, are you able to implement foreign policy?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Surely, after being elected, one should abide by ones promises and not to retract on them. I am determined to fulfill my promises and I believe the atmosphere is conducive and would improve day by day. Each person will carry out his tasks in his legal capacity. The President shoulders the important task of enforcing the Constitution. I have set up a Constitution Monitoring Group for the first time ever and this group is actively working to locate instances of violations or incorrect enforcement of the Constitution. We will be seriously address any shortcoming in the implementation or violation of the Constitution. And we shall succeed. Iran has one government which makes decisions on domestic and foreign policies within the framework of its duties.
Of course, there are many issues that should be approved by the Parliament. The overall policies are determined by the eminent Leadership. But it is the government that has to enforce them. I feel there is no barrier along the way of the government authority and the government accepts it own responsibility. We will surely implement any policy that we formulate.
It is possible that preliminary steps in certain areas might need time. But when we arrive at a policy, we will definitely carry it out. The government is responsible to carry out duties associated with its sovereign responsibilities in the society.
AMANPOUR: There is quite a lot of opposition from the conservative faction. How are you able to operate within this climate?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: When we speak of democratic government, or government of the people, it means that we accept opposition. We cannot possibly have a society with no opposition at all. Such differences of opinion are natural and they are to be found in all societies. We should learn not to allow such differences to turn into confrontation, but to direct them into their legal channels. Certainly there are elements who are opposing our government, but so long as their opposition is practiced within the provisions of the Constitution, we certainly respect them. But those wishing to impose their will against the law will naturally be dealt with through the proper legal channels. We accept both internal differences as well as any opposition that accepts the Constitutional framework, even if they openly oppose the government.
AMANPOUR: On the one hand, a lot of people want more openess, more freedom for all the things that you have even talked about. You are also appointing reform-minded ministers. On the other hand, there are still, if I could call them thugs, who are on the streets, interfering with women who they don't like their appearance, preventing certain professors from going to school. There is a confrontation. Where can you lead this confrontation?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I do not consider this a serious conflict. Of course, there are various tendencies, which were present during the elections as well. The people have made their decision. What I have said and continue to insist on is that rule of law should be paramount, and no one should consider himself above the law and try to impose his views on others. Some of these frictions are quite natural in a democratic society.
Our objective is to bring everything within the framework of the law. There may be occasional irregularities and actions outside the legal framework. But we will spare no effort to institutionalize the rule of law. Of course, to begin with, we have to create understanding amongst ourselves and learn to tolerate each other. You cannot bring about understanding and tolerance in the society by force. We are determined that there should only be one government in the society by force. We are determined that there should only be one government in the society and every one must submit to the law. I think that it is universally accepted that law is the basis of social order. Fortunately, our leader fully subscribes to this view. I hope that we can take more and more practical steps for the realization of the rule of law in our society.
AMANPOUR: Nonetheless there are two factions that seem to have been identified in Iran right now. The more conservative and the one that you lead, the reform minded, the more moderate. Where do you think that Iran will be one year from now? Will there be the freedoms and openess that you have talked about?
PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Let these divisions find their
meanings within their own context. Terms such as
conservative, moderate and the like are more often
meaningful in the West. Of course we have
differences of opinion in Iran too, and one
political tendency firmly believes in the
prevalence of logic and the rule of law while
there might be another tendency that believes it
is entitled to go beyond the law.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, thank you very much for
Khatami suggests warmer relations with U.S.
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami said Wednesday in a rare interview that
Iran and the United States should create a "crack
in the wall of mistrust" by exchanging writers,
scholars, artists and thinkers.|
"I believe all doors should now be open for such dialogue and understanding and the possibility for contact between Iranian and American citizens," Khatami told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. But the president, a moderate clergyman who was elected last May despite conservative opposition, also said that Iran feels "no need for ties with the United States."
He said there are "many progressive countries that are far more advanced in their foreign policy than the United States." He criticized the U.S. government for being "behind the times" and a "prisoner of a cold-war mentality" in attempting to "portray Islam as the new enemy. And, regrettably, they are targeting progressive Islam rather than certain regressive interpretations of Islam."
Khatami listed examples of American foreign policy which caused Iranians to feel "humiliated and oppressed." Among them were the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953, the shooting down of an Iranian airliner in 1988 with nearly 300 people aboard by a U.S. Navy ship, and the recent allocation of $20 million by Congress to, in his words, "topple" the Iranian government.
An 'affinity' for America
And he spent much of the interview tracing American history and praising the foundation of an American civilization based on liberty and spirituality. He noted that Iran's Islamic revolution had followed a similar course. "That," he said, "is why we sense an intellectual affinity with the essence of the American civilization."
Khatami several times praised "the great American people" and made it a point to separate them from American foreign policy, which he called a "flawed policy of domination."
"I feel the American politicians should ... adjust themselves to the standards of the American civilization," he said, "and at least apologize to their own people because of the approach they have adopted." The interview is the latest step by Khatami, 55, a moderate cleric elected with a groundswell of popular support, toward rapprochement with the West.
Washington has expressed interest in resuming talks with Iran, but only if the talks involve a broader discussion of the relationship. The United States severed ties with Iran in 1979 after Islamic militants loyal to the revolutionary government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
U.S. open to dialogue
At an Islamic summit in Tehran in December, Khatami said the Muslim world needed to learn from Western civilization, particularly its scientific and technological advances. Again last month, he signaled his openness to the United States, calling for "a thoughtful dialogue" with Americans. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the United States was willing to open such a dialogue. However, he said Washington would take that opportunity to raise concerns about Iran's development of weapons of mass destruction, its support of terrorism and its opposition to the Middle East peace process.
Calls violence a lack of logic
As for peace in the Middle East, Khatami accused the Israeli government, "a racist, terrorist regime ... that does not serve the interests of the Jewish people," with "trampling the peace process." He said that "sober and pragmatic analysis" is needed to resolve the problem and that Iran "would contribute to an international effort for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
Iran Leader Backs US Ties
By Afshin Valinejad|
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- In his first interview with a U.S. television network, President Mohammad Khatami says Iran and America should move closer after nearly two decades of hostility, officials close to him said today.
Khatami also criticized U.S. leaders, saying they were to blame for the rift een the two nations, the official told The Associated Press. Khatami spoke with CNN late Tuesday in Tehran in an interview scheduled for broadcast in the United States this evening. The officials said Khatami praised the American people several times in the interview and urged better relations between citizens of the two countries.
The officials, who sat in on the interview and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Khatami's tone was positive. Last month, Khatami called for a dialogue with the ``great American people,'' sending the strongest signal for possible renewal of friendship since the former allies broke ties in 1979. His interview has been billed by his allies as an address to Americans. By directing his remarks to the American people rather than their government, Khatami gets around Islamic hard-liners, who hold Washington in contempt.
Hard-liners have demanded that any call for dialogue with Americans be balanced with criticism of their leaders. The hard-line speaker of the Parliament, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, told reporters today that ``To send a message to the American people is all right. ... We must speak to the American people and let them know our complaints against the country's leader.'' Khatami won the presidency last May by heavily outpolling Nateq-Nuri. Speaking Tuesday in Washington, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin reaffirmed U.S. willingness to open a dialogue with Iran.
However, Rubin said the United States would raise with Tehran its concerns about Iran's development of weapons of mass destruction, its support for terrorism and its opposition to the Middle East peace process. ``These are topics that we think ought to be part of a serious and substantive and authoritative and openly acknowledialogue that we have long said we'd be prepared to enter into,'' Rubin said. CNN also talked with then-President Hashemi Rafsanjani in 1996.
Pakistani Special Envoy Leaves For Tehran
|ISLAMABAD XINHUA - Pakistan's special envoy IftikharMurshid left here Monday night for Tehran to coordinate with the
Iranian government about efforts to hold an intra-Afghan dialogue.
Murshid is expected to brief the Iranian leadership on the recent visit to Pakistan by Burhanuddin Rabbani, leader of the Afghan northern alliance, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Murshid's visit to Iran is a part of Pakistan's efforts to maintain coordination with that country in a bid to resolve differences among the warring Afghan groups, the report said.
He will also brief the Iranian government on the latest contacts between the Pakistani government and the Taliban militia.
Iran's Khatami to break ground with CNN interview
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - President Mohammad Khatami breaks
new ground this week when he becomes the first Iranian leader
since the 1979 Islamic revolution to launch a dialogue with the
American people through television, Iranian analysts said.
But they said the relatively moderate Shi'ite Moslem cleric was not expected to make any bold moves in an interview with the Cable News Network (CNN), which was sure to deal a blow to a taboo about contacts with Iran's arch-foe.
Khatami, who has repeatedly called for steps to ease world tensions, stirred speculation about a thaw with Washington last month when he voiced respect for the ``great people of the United States'' and said he sought a dialogue with them.
But the analysts said Khatami, who has been careful not to provoke a backlash by powerful conservative forces against the limited reforms he has introduced, was unlikely to go beyond restating Tehran's case in its confrontation with Washington.
``Advocating ties with the United States is political suicide in Iran, so Khatami is not going