Ex-Iran President Khatami gets U.S. visa
Barry Schweid, Yahoo News:
Despite intense disagreement over suspected nuclear weapons and terrorism, the Bush administration decided Tuesday to allow former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to visit the United States.Has our government lost its mind?
A visa was granted Tuesday to Khatami and several Iranians who will accompany him on the visit early next month, said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.
There will be no restrictions on his travel.
Khatami plans to attend a U.N. conference Sept. 5-6, and speak at the Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 7. READ MORE
No meetings with U.S. officials are anticipated, Casey told reporters at a briefing.
Khatami would be the most senior Iranian official to visit Washington since Islamic fundamentalists seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held Americans there hostage for 444 days.
The Iranian Embassy in Washington closed in April 1980. There have been no formal relations between the two countries since then, although U.S. and Iranian diplomats have participated in multinational meetings, such as on Afghanistan.
A growing number of former U.S. diplomats and members of Congress have urged the administration to talk to Iran about their disagreements.
Currently, the Bush administration is locked in a fierce dispute with Iran over what Casey on Tuesday said was the country's defiance of U.N. Security Council demands that it suspend enrichment of uranium.
The spokesman reaffirmed U.S. intentions to seek U.N. sanctions against Iran if it does not comply by Thursday's deadline.