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Khatami answers reporters upon arrival from US visit

Tehran Sept 16, IRNA-Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami answered questions from enthusiastic reporters upon his arrival at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport Friday night from a controversial visit to the US.

The prominent cleric said that during his appearance in various international fora he had always defended the dignity and status of the Iranian nation.

"I always defended the national dignity of Iranians at each international forum in order to avoid creation of controversies about them," Khatami said.

He stated that during his near two-week speaking tour of the US, the first by a senior Iranian official since the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, he discussed his views on Islam, dialogue among civilizations and Iran's peaceful nuclear activities.

"I believe it was a successful visit in general," said the head of Iran's International Center for Dialogue among Civilizations.

However, his five-city visit to the US triggered various reactions inside and outside the country.

A US-based pro-Israeli group said that he was visiting the US "to whitewash Iran's "controversial nuclear record, support for terror and human rights violations."

Khatami, however, said he focused solely on themes of dialogue and co-existence in his speeches at Harvard University, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (a human rights group), Washington's National Cathedral and the UN Alliance of Civilizations in the UN Headquarters in New York as well as his interviews with Time Magazine and Cable News Network (CNN).

Asked to comment on the strong criticisms levelled by domestic figures on his visit, the smiling Khatami said that he had enough patience for insults and was "used to bad language directed at him." He added that during his years of presidency (1997-2005), he had always welcomed criticism.

"We have to tolerate vilification until, God willing, we will pass the age of impatience and truly learn how to deal with our opponents' opposing views," stressed the initiator of "Dialogue "among Civilizations."

He added that while he was in the US he had received various negative reactions about his visit mostly from Zionist and warmonger circles who, by no means, would want to see Iran successfully resolve its problem (with the West).

Khatami said that he did not take seriously any of the negative reactions to his visit, adding that what mattered to him "is the unity of the Islamic system and, more significantly, the dignity of Iran."

... Payvand News - 9/16/06 ... --

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