Iranian president welcomes conciliatory Clinton remarks
DOHA, May 23 (AFP) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami welcomed as
"courageous" on Sunday recent conciliatory remarks by US President
Bill Clinton but called on him to back up his words with deeds.
"I think that the point of view expressed by Mr. Clinton was courageous,
without knowing to what extent he was convinced of what he was saying or
whether it was just a tactic," Khatami said in an interview with the
Qatari satellite television channel Al-Jazira.
The reformist Iranian president, added, however, that "this personal
opinion (of Clinton) cannot easily change the traditional policies of the
United States towards Iran, the Middle East or the Islamic world.
"If this was a signal of a change in US policy, and if behavior
really changes on the ground, then this could serve as a basis and we
could see a new type of international relationship between the West and
the Islamic world, the West and the United States and Iran, and Iran and
the United States," he said.
"But this must be proved in practical terms and for the moment
we are seeing the opposite," Khatami said.
Clinton made an unusual overture towards the Islamic Republic last
month, when he said that "Iran, because of its enormous geopolitical
importance over time, has been the subject of quite a lot of abuse from
various Western nations."
The United States also moved in April to ease trade sanctions on food
and medicine sales to the Islamic Republic.
Khatami said "the current behavior of the United States towards
Iran and others is not fair" and that the United States was "reserving
the right to say anything it wants and have others obey."
"This type of relationship ... must change," said Khatami,
who marked the second anniversary on Sunday of his May 1997 landslide
presidential election victory.
Tehran and Washington broke off diplomatic ties after Iranian students
seized hostages at the US embassy in Tehran shortly after the 1979 Islamic
Revolution and the United States imposed a unilateral economic embargo
on the Islamic republic in 1995.
In a reference to the presence of US military forces in Gulf states,
Khatami also reiterated that the Gulf countries did not need the presence
of foreign forces to ensure their security.
He also said that a dispute with the United Arab Emirates over three
islands in the Gulf could only be settled through dialogue and called on
the UAE to "show its good intentions."
The UAE disputes Iran's claims to the three small Gulf islands, and
has demanded that the issue be submitted to the International Court of
Justice in the Hague.