The IranianFly to Iran


email us

US Transcom
US Transcom

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

    News & views

Khatami urges dialogue of cultures, hints at U.S.

By Tom Heneghan

PARIS, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami held out an olive branch to the United States on Friday, appealing for a dialogue between cultures to preserve peace rather than a blind clash of civilisations.

Khatami told the annual conference of UNESCO in Paris that globalisation meant all people were ``in the same boat'' and needed tolerance to make a better world in the next millennium.

Without mentioning America, he spoke in allusions clearly aimed at Washington, which has called for ``a dialogue without preconditions'' to end the freeze in ties since U.S. diplomats were held hostage in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

French police deployed massive security to protect Khatami, including dozens of armed men in the hall where he spoke, but one human rights protester still succeeded in entering the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's headquarters and throwing a tomato at his car as he left.

``If the 20th century focused on the force of the sword, with winners and losers along the way, we should know the main focus of the next century will be one of dialogue,'' Khatami said on the final day of his three-day visit to France.

``If not, the sword will be a sharp blade, a double-edged one which will spare nobody. The warmakers may be among the first victims. This is one of the consequences of globalisation.''

Speaking in Farsi, he added: ``To the states which, by their economic and military power, commit the sin of pride in using force and domination to achieve their goals, we must say we prefer the path of wisdom by choosing dialogue.''


The United States on Wednesday welcomed Khatami's visit, the first to France since the Islamic revolution of 1979, and ``Iran's interest in rejoining the community of nations.''

But State Department spokesman James Rubin said Washington still objected to Tehran's weapons programmes, its support for groups violently opposed to Middle East peace and the jailing of 13 Iranian Jews on charges of spying for Israel.

Khatami, dressed in the grey and black robes of a Shi'ite cleric, couched his speech in sublte philosophical terms.

He chose the term ``pax romana'' rather than the less diplomatic ``pax americana'' to criticise the hegemony of superpowers which he said tried to rule the world by force.

After the speech, Israeli Education Minister Yossi Sarid said: ``I am very disappointed because Khatami did not mention human rights (or) the Jews put in jail....We are more interested in Iranian policy than their thoughts and philosophy.''

A spokesman for the National Council of Resistance in Iran said: ``This is the kind of hot air Khatami has been giving out for the past two years. Look at the facts, not the words.''


Iranian exiles, French Jewish groups and human rights activists have dogged Khatami during the visit, accusing him of crushing opposition at home and supporting terrorists abroad.

His speech at UNESCO was called off on Thursday on security grounds. On Friday, riot police were posted outside the building and all Metro undergrouond stations in the area were closed.

Photographers allowed inside the heavily guarded auditorium where Khatami spoke counted about 50 policemen in civilian clothes, many of them clearly armed with concealed pistols.

Khatami's visit, which comes on the heels of a visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, has shed a harsh light on France's policy of seeking closer economic ties with countries with questionable human rights records.

But the visits have brought in several contracts for Airbus aircraft and French-built locomotives.


 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.