Khatami tells Israeli reporters to 'go to hell'

Former Iranian president curses journalists at Kazakhstan forum after calling for peaceful dialogue.

April 24, 2007 22:04
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Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has called for peaceful dialogue with the West, but last week cursed Israeli journalists who approached him at the sixth Eurasion Media Forum in Kazakhstan. Khatami reiterated that Iran had a right to a peaceful civilian nuclear energy program and that it did not intend to develop nuclear weapons. "We want to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes only," he claimed. Khatami added that his country was not striving for war, and quoted Albert Einstein, who said that no matter what weapons were used in World War III, "World War IV [would] be fought with sticks and stones." Iran's former president also said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was overseeing Iran's nuclear activity, and pointed out that Iran was a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while "other states in the Middle East" were treated differently. "Why do other countries have the right to atomic energy, and we don't?" he asked, noting that "pressure should be applied to [the] Middle East states that already possess nuclear weapons." While talking informally with former US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrook on Thursday, Khatami said that once a new administration was elected, he was ready to travel to the US to discuss Iran's nuclear program. Nevertheless, despite his calls for "dialogue," Khatami refused to speak to the Israeli reporters present at the talks. Channel 10 later reported that Khatami, heading for his suite, had cursed them, saying, "Go to hell!" On Friday, Khatami decided to skip the scheduled panel on Iran's nuclear program because an Israeli representative was slated to speak. While commenting on the "double standards" allegedly applied to nations' possession of nuclear weapons, president of Israel's Council of Peace and Security Maj.-Gen. (res.) Danny Rothschild remarked that Khatami's absence was a sign that his calls for dialogue on Iran's nuclear program were mere words.

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