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Khatami: US should withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible

London, Nov 1, IRNA-Former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami says that he would advise US President George W. Bush to withdraw his troops from Iraq and replace them with an international force.

"In my opinion, the United States should pull out of Iraq as soon as possible," Khatami told Channel Four News during a five-day visit to the UK.

He suggested that the troops be replaced by an international force, including from Islamic and neighbouring countries and even western states, "to reinforce the central government of Iraq." Khatami, now director of the International Foundation for Dialogue among Civilisations, was speaking after being awarded Tuesday with an honorary doctorate by St Andrews University in Scotland "in recognition of his efforts to encourage interfaith dialogue." With regard to the quagmire in Iraq caused by the US-led invasion, he said that at the moment the Americans are thinking they are the "one and only in charge of Iraq's problems."

"But the peace, stability and development of Iraq are important to countries of the region," the former Iranian president said, adding that the ground could be prepared to help resolve the problems under the auspices of the United Nations.

He revealed that Iran and the US had previously agreed to discuss Iraq's problems, but said that Washington had not shown the same interest as they earlier.

Khatami also categorically rejected some Western attempts to try to blame Iran for some of Iraq's problems, stressing Tehran "does not have any military involvement" but had "very good relations with the government of Iraq".

"Anything that contributes to insecurity or adds to the violence in Iraq, the first one to lose would be Iran," he maintained.

The former Iranian president further clarified that in Iran's nuclear programme, "there is no aim or goal to achieve weapons and that there would be no deviation."

Despite Israel having up to 400 nuclear warheads and India and Pakistan becoming atomic states, he said "Iran does not have any intention" to do the same, Khatami added.

Borderless friendship will save world

London, Nov 1, IRNA-The world should wake up and question the reasons for the current violence across the globe and the re-emergence of religious wars, says Mohammed Khatami, former Iranian president and founder of the International Institute for Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures (IIDCC).

"We should get to know how come we talk of crusades at the beginning of the third millennium and in the name of civilization and human rights," Khatami said on Tuesday evening.

"We should learn why seven centuries after nonsense bickering and debates we are reckoning that `our religion' is the faith of Logos and compassion and `their religion' is one of violence and insanity," he said in an address to Scotland's oldest university.

The IIDCC director was speaking after being conferred an honorary doctor of laws at St Andrews University on the northeast coast of the British Isles and east coast of Scotland in recognition of "his efforts to encourage inter-faith dialogue."

He said that the world was being threatened by all kinds of conflicts, but warned that the calamity of human suffering will not be solved "by reducing religion to a social institution or through simplistic individualist assertions."

"We get to know and delineate the world by discovering the relationship between cause and effect, by realizing the mechanism of activity and by understanding the relationship between objects and the way they affect one another," Khatami said.

"Borderless friendship will save the world," he suggested in repeating his call for dialogue between civilizations to bring about peace and stability.

"Numerous generations to come should take unrelenting efforts in order to increase the possibility of diluting the thick walls that separate the different worlds of humans, and help sounds and messages to pass through this thick and condensed wall," he said.

It was while he was president of Iran that Khatami launched his Dialogue among Civilizations in 1999 that was adopted by the United Nations.

Since then he has established the Foundation for Dialogue among Civilizations based in Geneva and Tehran with outreach offices in Paris and Vienna.

In an interview with the university's student newspaper `The Saint', Khatami spoke further about the importance of establishing dialogue between the East and West.

"This century has seen suffering for both the East and West, which experienced two world wars in the first half of the century and a couple of decades of the Cold War, which was, in my opinion, even much more disastrous than the world wars themselves," he said.

In the last years of the century and the past decade, Khatami added, there had been a "bitter experience with terrorism and extremism" and this showed tht the current paradigm in human life is "not a proper one" and needed to be changed.

"If the paradigm instead of dialogue is pushing forward to have force and violence, we must replace misunderstanding with understanding, collaboration, and cooperation rather than face each other as opposites," he suggested.

Presenting the honorary doctorate, Vice-Chancellor of St Andrews University Professor Michael Bentley said the career and intellect of Khatami "offer hope that trans-cultural communication should not be seen as an idle aspiration."

"What we can and should offer is acknowledgement of a courageous stand against insularity and congratulations on real and persistent efforts to reach out and engage with nations of the West who often cleave to aspirations very different from his," the professor said.

"In a world racked by fear, suspicion and terrorism it becomes more important, not less, to discover dialogue and to recognize the achievement," he said.

Prior to his speech, Khatami was invited to inaugurate a new Centre for Iranian Studies at the university, which was established in 1410 and is the third oldest in Britain after Oxford and Cambridge.

During his five-day visit to the UK, Khatami will also be addressing the Royal Institute of International Relations at Chatham House in London and St Anthony's College at Oxford University.

Meetings are also being scheduled with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and other bishops in the House of Lords amongst other discussions on inter-faith dialogue.

Before leaving, Khatami will also hold discussions with British Muslim leaders at the London Islamic Centre in Whitechapel, east London, as well as meetings with members of the Iranian community.

... Payvand News - 11/1/06 ... --

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