Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Khatami Uses Visit to Bash Bush

Nick Wadhams, RegisterGuard:
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami criticized President Bush in interviews published Tuesday, as he joined Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other leaders at the United Nations for a meeting of a group that promotes understanding between Western and Islamic states.

Khatami, in the middle of a two-week tour of the United States, refused to speak with the media as he went in and out of the room where the meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations took place at U.N. headquarters. The event was closed to the media.

Yet in interviews with CNN and USA Today, Khatami faulted Bush on several counts: He refused, for example, to back off a previous comparison between the U.S. leader and Osama bin Laden. He also said the United States was partly to blame for the turmoil in the Middle East.

``As a result of such wrong policies, such unilateral, violent policies, that is - the voice of logic has decreased and voice of terror and attractiveness of terror unfortunately among youth has increased,'' CNN quoted him as saying in an interview. READ MORE

Khatami will spend a second day at the United Nations for the event. He spoke in the Chicago area over the weekend, and will attend two Islamic conferences as well as deliver a speech at the National Cathedral in Wash- ington.

Khatami is the most senior Iranian to travel outside New York in the United States since Islamic fundamentalists seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held Americans hostage for 444 days.

Khatami and his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have both addressed the U.N. General Assembly.

Khatami reiterated the government's claim that it is not seeking nuclear weapons. The United States insists that it is.

``Why should they not trust Iran?'' CNN quoted him as saying. ``See, at this moment, Iran is a signatory to the treaty, has declared many times it has no interest in building the nuclear bomb.''

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan created the Alliance of Civilizations - headed by Spain and Turkey - last year as a vehicle to overcome the mutual suspicion, fear and misunderstanding between Islamic and Western societies that have been exploited by extremists throughout the world, according to its terms of reference. Khatami is a founding member.