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Rhetoric Needs To End For US-Iran Dialogue Says Khatami

Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. Photo courtesy AFP
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sep 08, 2006
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, the most senior Iranian to visit the United States in 25 years, said Thursday dialogue between top Iranian and US officials will only happen when both sides stop verbally assaulting each other.

Separately, Khatami insisted that the West should not set pre-conditions for negotiations over Iran's controversial nuclear work.

The United States did not seek any official meeting with Khatami, although the US State Department is proving security for the ex-president, who was in office from 1997-2005.

He is the most senior Iranian to visit the United States since Washington broke off diplomatic relations following the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.

"Before we can talk and engage in dialogue we have to eliminate the language of threat -- for this dialogue to be successful," Khatami told reporters before speaking to a select crowd at Washington National Cathedral.

"Relations between our respective governments should be resolved through dialogue," said Khatami, who arrived in the United States last week.

"Using violent language by every side is not conducive to dialogue and would exacerbate the problem," Khatami added.

Meanwhile, Khatami said the West's call for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment could be discussed during negotiations but that the suspension should not be a pre-condition to talks.

"During the course of negotiations we could even talk about suspension, the nature of suspension, the timing of suspension and the duration of suspension," he said.

Iran failed to meet an August 31 deadline, laid out in a United Nations resolution, to freeze uranium enrichment, which makes nuclear reactor fuel but also atom bomb material.

Halting enrichment is also the condition that Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany, have made for opening negotiations on giving Iran trade, security and technology benefits.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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