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
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
WASHINGTON WELCOMES KHATAMI VISIT
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
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.''
PROTESTERS DOG KHATAMI
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.