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IRANIAN LEADER BACKS CULTURAL TIES TO U.S.



Byline: Elaine Sciolino Elaine F. Sciolino is an American journalist who has been the Paris bureau chief of The New York Times since August of 2002[1].

Sciolino joined the Times in 1984.
 The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 Times

President Mohammed Khatami of Iran proposed cultural exchanges Wednesday as a way to break down years of mistrust between his country and the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , but ruled out a government-to-government dialogue, saying there was no need for political ties with Washington.

In a 45-minute interview with the Cable News Network, which was broadcast in its entirety, the 54-year-old cleric was at times warm and conciliatory con·cil·i·ate  
v. con·cil·i·at·ed, con·cil·i·at·ing, con·cil·i·ates

v.tr.
1. To overcome the distrust or animosity of; appease.

2.
, repeating his belief that the world had much to learn from the West, and at times harsh and condemnatory of America's past treatment of his country.

He seemed to be steering a difficult, even tortured agenda, struggling to create a new way of talking to Noun 1. talking to - a lengthy rebuke; "a good lecture was my father's idea of discipline"; "the teacher gave him a talking to"
lecture, speech

rebuke, reprehension, reprimand, reproof, reproval - an act or expression of criticism and censure; "he had to
 the United States while protecting himself from a domestic backlash by not going too far, too fast in strengthening the rule of law and expanding individual freedoms.

In Washington, the State Department responded cautiously to the remarks, repeating Washington's insistence that any dialogue must occur between the two governments.

Khatami, appearing relaxed and smiling broadly, praised America's great civilization as worthy of respect, calling the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock Plymouth Rock

site of Pilgrim landing in Massachusetts (1620). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 395–396]

See : America
 in the name of religious freedom an event ``revered by all Americans'' and describing Abraham Lincoln as the most famous of American ``martyrs'' who gave their lives for freedom and dignity.

But he also attacked American foreign policy toward Iran over the past half century, reciting a long list of grievances.

``Nothing should prevent dialogue and understanding between two nations, especially between their scholars and thinkers,'' he said in response to a question about whether there could be a dialogue with the American government. ``Right now I recommend the exchange of professors, scholars, authors, journalists and tourists.''

Khatami's interviewer, Christiane Amanpour λChristiane Amanpour, CBE, (born January 12, 1958) (Persian: کریستین امان‌پور) is the chief international correspondent for CNN. , did not ask about the apparent contradiction between the initiation of cultural exchanges and Iran's refusal to rescind a decree that British novelist Salman Rushdie Noun 1. Salman Rushdie - British writer of novels who was born in India; one of his novels is regarded as blasphemous by Muslims and a fatwa was issued condemning him to death (born in 1947)
Ahmed Salman Rushdie, Rushdie
 had insulted the prophet Mohammed in one of his novels and should be put to death.

In the dynamic political atmosphere in Iran today, it is unclear whether Khatami's praise of American culture and his modest proposal for cultural exchanges are part of a larger long-term strategy for a more substantive improvement in relations with the United States. The United States and the Soviet Union enjoyed cultural exchanges throughout the Cold War but they did little to warm the atmosphere.

The idea of cultural exchanges is unlikely to elicit serious criticism by his opponents, even though they believe that Iran's revolution must be protected from the corrupting influences of the West, particularly the United States.

And even while he made tentative overtures to the people of the United States, Khatami made clear that American behavior toward Iran has damaged his country and fueled suspicion and mistrust.

``We feel no need for ties with the United States, especially as the modern world is so diverse and plural that we can reach our objectives without any United States assistance,'' he said.

Khatami also repeated Iran's long-held opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace effort, criticizing the United States for allowing certain foreign policy decisions to be ``made in Tel Aviv Tel Aviv (tĕl əvēv`), city (1994 pop. 355,200), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Oficially named Tel Aviv–Jaffa, it is Israel's commercial, financial, communications, and cultural center and the core of its largest  and not in Washington'' and branding Israel ``the racist terrorist regime.''

Khatami's interview, his first with a foreign news organization since his landslide election victory last May, stemmed from an announcement he made last month that he would soon speak directly to the American people An American people may be:
  • any nation or ethnic group of the Americas
  • see Demographics of North America
  • see Demographics of South America
.

In that news conference, he called for a ``thoughtful dialogue'' with the people of the United States, prompting a positive response from President Clinton that he would like nothing more, as well as speculation in both the United States and Iran that two decades of hostility between the countries might begin to crumble.

Despite a desire in some quarters in Iran for improved relations with the United States, the president's remarks were followed by angry reactions in many Iranian newspapers Iran's first newspaper rolled off the press in 1835.[1]

By 1907 (the era of the Persian Constitutional Revolution), there were 90 newspapers circulating in Iran.
 that the president had no right to decide on his own whether to initiate an official dialogue with the United States government.

And Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made clear in a prayer sermon Friday that reports that Iran was moving toward rapprochement with the United States were mere ``propaganda.''

Despite his stated intention to reach out to the American people, his presentation seemed more aimed at an Iranian audience. He also might have misread mis·read  
tr.v. mis·read , mis·read·ing, mis·reads
1. To read inaccurately.

2. To misinterpret or misunderstand: misread our friendly concern as prying.
 American television viewers, who are even less aware of Iranian history than they are of their own and might have missed many, if not all, of his historical references.

Included in the American ``flawed policy of domination'' of Iran, Khatami said, were: the 1953 coup orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency that overthrew the prime minister and reinstalled the monarchy; the negative attitude of the United States toward Iran's revolution; the appropriation by Congress of millions of dollars for a covert program to destabilize de·sta·bi·lize  
tr.v. de·sta·bi·lized, de·sta·bi·liz·ing, de·sta·bi·liz·es
1. To upset the stability or smooth functioning of:
 the Iranian government; and a campaign to hurt Iran economically, both with unilateral sanctions and legislation requiring the sanctioning of foreign companies that invest heavily in Iran's oil and gas industry.

A philosopher as well as a religious scholar who reads and speaks German and Arabic, reads English, and speaks some English, Khatami at one point cited the 19th century French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville's's classic, ``Democracy in America De la démocratie en Amérique (published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840) is a classic French text by Alexis de Tocqueville on the United States in the 1830s and its strengths and weaknesses. ,'' which, he said, ``I am sure most Americans have read.''

Asked whether the seizure of the American Embassy in 1979 was a mistake, Khatami expressed regret that the ``feelings of the great American people have been hurt.'' But he added that the feelings of the Iranian people had been hurt as well by humiliation at the hands of the United States.

Although the taking of Americans as hostages had to be understood in the historical revolutionary context, he said, the situation in Iran is now stable enough that the people fully adhere to adhere to
verb 1. follow, keep, maintain, respect, observe, be true, fulfil, obey, heed, keep to, abide by, be loyal, mind, be constant, be faithful

2.
 all norms of conduct.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1 -- color) CNN CNN
 or Cable News Network

Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world.
 correspondent Christiane Amanpour speaks with Iranian President Mohammed Khatami in a 45-minute interview Wednesday.

Associated Press

(2 -- color) KHATAMI
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 8, 1998
Words:999
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