Khatami’s US Visit : Hats Off To President Bush
Whatever be the motives of allowing Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami to visit five cities of the United States in these unpredictable times – and in the face of opposition from hardliners in both America and Iran – it bodes well for keeping open the door for dialogue/discussion instead of reaching for the trigger in the face of a crisis.
Khatami’s unusual appearance at Washingtonâ€™s National Cathedral on Thursday evening, urging religious tolerance and political dialogue while protesters chanted and blasted horns outside, was well covered by the mainstream media.
At a news conference in Washington on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Khatami spoke in terms that combined the religious and the temporal, urging a spiritual dialogue among those of different religions even as he criticized what he described as threatening words of their governments, reports The New York Times.
“He repeated his governmentâ€™s official line that Iran would be prepared to discuss its nuclear program with the world community, but without the precondition of freezing its enrichment of uranium as demanded by a United Nations resolution as well as the United States and its closest allies.
” ‘We are in search of solutions,’ Mr. Khatami said through an interpreter. ‘During the course of negotiations we could even talk about suspensions, the nature of suspensions, the timing of suspensions and the durations of suspensions’.
“He cautioned that ‘the threat of use of force, and language of threat, has never produced a resolution’.
“Mr. Khatami served as President of Iran for two terms, from 1997 to 2005, and is the highest-ranking Iranian to visit Washington since the United States severed relations under President Carter in 1980 after the 1979 revolution and the seizure of American hostages.
” ‘Today no other course is before us but that of recognition of the right of humankind to rule its own destiny, and the manifestation of this right in democratic systems ought not to be limited to liberal democracies,’ Mr. Khatami said in his address.
For dialogue among civilizations to materialize, he said, ‘the East should no longer be the â€˜objectâ€™ of understanding in the West,’ but should be ‘recognized as a partner in dialogue and communication’.”