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Iran's President denies meeting Israeli president

Tehran, April 9, IRNA-President Mohammad Khatami on Friday strongly denied Israeli media allegations that he had met with Israel's president Moshe Katzav during funeral procession for the World Catholic Church Leader Pope John Paul II in Vatican.

Upon return home, Khatami said, "These allegations are false like other allegations made by Israeli media and I have not had any meeting with any one from Zionist Regime."

Israeli media reported Friday that during the Pope's funeral ceremony, Khatami held brief talks with Katzav.

Pointing to Iran's stances toward Zionist Regime, Khatami said, "As reiterated many times, we do not both morally and logically recognize Israel which was created based on force and usurpation." Khatami said that recognizing Israel means that occupation and force are rooted in legitimacy, adding "To me, recognizing the existence of the state of Israel would be an injustice to humankind.

"And if it is approved that presence and existence of the people by force and occupation are legitimate, then humanity would suffer." "We do not meddle in efforts for peace but hope that world would know why all peace-making plans have been unsuccessful; Doesn't that point to wrong nature of the peace plans?" asked Khatami.

Khatami added that there are many plans for settlement of the Middle East problem but all are unsuccessful because do not consider Palestinian nation's rights.

Iran's stance toward Palestinian issue is a moral, philosophical and humanitarian one, Khatami said, adding that lasting peace would be restored through recognizing Palestine's absolute rights and repatriation of the people expelled from their homeland.

Khatami added that he had held talks with European high-ranking officials and intellectuals on the future of Middle East and Iran's stance toward the nature of Zionist Regime.

Responding to a question on achievements of his visits to Austria, France and Italy, Khatami said that he had conferred with the countries' officials on issues of mutual interests as well as Iran's stance on the nuclear technology.

Khatami said that during the meetings he had once more highlighted peaceful use of nuclear technology and warned against depriving Iran from its natural and legal rights.

The Iranian president added that Iran was ready to continue negotiations within frameworks of regulations, but the talks could not be long.

Expanding economic cooperation with Austria, France and Italy was among the other issues discussed with the counries' officials, Khatami said.

Iran has passed the stage of importing goods and machinery, he said, adding building up standards of knowledge and technology in all fields is among the country's top priorities.

Khatami held talks with French officials on energy and Auto-making majors and conferred with Austrian officials over transfer of gas to Europe and Austria.

Referring to his speech at UNESCO Conference on Dialogue among Civilizations, Khatami said that he had underlined the necessity of global dialogue among civilizations.

On presence of Iran's high-ranking delegation in Pope's funeral ceremony, Khatami said the Pope was a spiritual personality in the world and was a harbinger of morality and spirituality, adding Pope always stressed peace, co-existence and campaign against the materialistic and spiritually destructive factors affecting life.

"Death of Pope left drastic impact on global and Christian societies," Khatami said.

Upon his arrival in Tehran Friday, Khatami was welcomed by First-Vice President Mohammad-Reza Aref and several other members of the cabinet.

... Payvand News - 4/9/05 ... --

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