President Khatami Returns Home, Demands Eradication of Discrimination Against French Muslims

President Khatami Returns Home, Demands Eradication of Discrimination Against French Muslims

TEHRAN -- President Mohammad Khatami in a private meeting with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on Wednesday called on the president to safeguard the rights of the Muslim minority in France.

In his capacity as the Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC),President Khatami called for protection of the Muslim community in France.
Islam is the secondmajor religion in France.
On the Jews arrested in Iran on espionage charges, President Khatami told President Chirac that there are Muslims too among those under arrest and that their arrest had nothing to do with their religion.
"Of course they are accused of spying and no verdict has yet been issued on their charges. Their trial would take place in accordance with justice and their rights as the Iranian citizens will be respected, "he said.
President Khatami further told reporters on Friday that the accused "will be puton trial according to the law and will face a fair trial." The Iranian president added that every country is sensitive towards its security, particularly the Islamic Republic of Iran whichh as been facing various types of plots and pressures after the victory of the (1979) revolution.
" Among threats faced by Iran, the president cited "foreign plots to put Iran under pressure, the Iraqi imposed war (1980-1988), and terrorist activities against the Islamic Republic." The president added: "It is surprising for me that there is always talk about the arrest of 13 Jews but nothing is said about the eight Muslims arrested along with the Jews." Khatami stressed that the arrest of the group had nothing to do with their religion, adding that "the Jews too enjoy the right of citizenship in Iran. When acharge is brought against a citizen he/she will be put on trial according to Iranian laws.
" Khatami said the reason that the trial of the suspects had been delayed was because the case required care and full investigations so that no one's right would be trampled

"This is up to the Judiciary how to handle the case," he noted.

Thepresident said the arrested people have the right to contact their relatives and talk to their lawyers. "right now they are only accused," he stressed.

Meanwhile, President Chirac Tuesday rejected the idea of a unipolar world and stressed that the Islamic Republic of Iran is enjoying aspecial position in the multipolar world.
Making the remark in a meeting with the visiting Iranian President Khatami and his accompanying high-ranking delegation, he praised Iran's great anti-drug efforts.

"I usually refer to Iran as a model in anti-drug campaign," the French president stressed.


Referring to the visit of French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine to Tehran, he voiced his country's desire to promote ties with Iran.


"Strengthened Tehran-Paris relations will lead to expansion of ties between Iran and the entire Europe," he added.

Meanwhile, the Iranian president referred to both Iranian and French nations as the two great nations who have gone through several political storms along the history.
The Iranian nation has been successful in carrying out the most popular revolution in the century, he said adding that he experience of the Islamic Revolution includes "democracy along with religion and freedom along with spirituality".

He further referred to motto of France's great revolution which stressed on freedom, brotherhood and equality.

President Khatami expressed regret over the outbreak of wars and conflicts as well as assassinations, poverty and nuclear tests in the current century and said, "Unfortunately, there is little indication of freedom, brotherhood and equality in the century which is almost coming to an end." "Not only Fascism, Nazism and dictatorship should be eliminated, from among nations but their signs should also be removed from relations among different nations," he stressed.


Underlining the need for peace and tranquility throughout the globe, the Iranian president said that a true peace will only be materialized when it is based on justice.


Stressing the importance of dialog among various civilizations, he said that discrimination and oppression, widespread in the current century, should be replaced by dialog.

PresidentK hatami expressed hope that Iran and France will witness promotion of bilateral ties.
As to Iran's geopolitical position, he stressed that the Islamic Republic's detente policy has led to stability in the region.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and his French counterpart Vedrine, present in the meeting, briefed the two presidents on the developments in bilateralties.
Meanwhile, President Khatami Wednesday referred to the ample energy potentials in the region and underlined the need for promotion of security in the Persian Gulf.
Making the remark in a meeting with President of the French Senate Christian Poncelet, he stressed that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always made efforts to make the region secure and calm.

Referring to Iran's detente policy, the president said that the policy is providing regional security.

The policy has had great positive impacts, he added.
As to the valuable services of the great French thinkers to human civilization, President Khatami expressed satisfaction over his visit to France as representative of a great and civilization-making nation.

He praised great efforts of the French nation for establishment of democracy, particularly after the World WarII.
Rejecting the unipolar world, President Khatami said that both Iran and France have identical views on the issue.
Turning to the Middle East developments, the Iranian president regretted that millions of Palestinians have been homeless over the past few years whose rights can not be disregarded.
He further expressed hope that the world will enjoy lasting peace.
"Such a peace will be achieved only when all people are given their rights," he added.

Ponce let said that his country had been expecting President Khatami's visit and that Paris is willing to have constant cooperation with Tehran.


He also voiced French Senate's interest in relations with Iran's Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis).

"I believe that during President Khatami's visit to France, a new horizon will be opened in Tehran-Paris relations," the president of French senate stated.

Praising the idea of dialog among civilizations proposed by the Iranian president, he said that the dialog is the best way for solving all the problems.

Voicing his country's readiness to help promote the idea, he expressed the hope that President Khatami will be successful in his endeavors.
The French parliamentarian further said that exchange of views between the senior officials of the two countries will pave the way for further expansion of bilateral cooperation.

During the meeting, head of the Foreign Policy and Defense Committee of the French Senate proposed a visit to Tehran by the members of the commission. The proposal was welcomed by President Khatami.
In a meeting with the former French President Giscard d'Estaing, President Khatami stressed that the time for a unipolar world and domination over the destiny of human beings by certain powers has come to an end.
He also said that Iran was determined to work for the country's economic progress as an "important necessity.
" He added that in his view economic progress had no contradiction with spiritual development.
Giscard d'Estaing said he highly respected Khatami's idea regarding creation of a balance between religion and democratic principles.

Pointing to the areas where Iran and France could expand their relations, the former French president said: "We will not let any country to impose its ideas on France regarding its relations with Iran." President Khatami of Iran Thursday met with a number of French business leaders and bankers willing to invest in Iran.

During the meeting held behind closed doors, President Khatami briefed the audience on the objectives of the Third Five-Year Development Plan (2000-2005) and various opportunities for investments in Iran.

Paving the way for foreign investments, reform of regulations, securing investments and expansion of non-oil exports are the main pivots of the third development plan, he said.


The Iranian president also invited the French businessmen to invest in various economic projects in Iran.
President Khatami said that the Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes cooperation with foreign countries on the basis of mutual interests.
Referring to special geopolitical situation of the Islamic Republic and great potentials existing in Iran, the president voiced Iran's interests in making use of foreign potentials.
During the visit of the top level Iranian delegation to France, agreements have been signed on France's export to Iran of 100 locomotive motors, four airbus passenger planesa nd radar sites especially designed for airtraffic control at total cost of $ 790 million.
President Khatami Thursday received agroup of French intellectuals and members of French Academy at the historical site of Pantheon.
The Pantheon is one of the French capital's most popular tourist sites where some of France's most illustrious figures are buried.
Addressing the French academics at Pantheon monument on the second day of his visit to Paris, President Khatami said the global policy will no longer turn around the same pivot it turns now and adifferent situation is awaiting the human being in the third millennium.
The president said issues like freedom, harnessing the power and control of power, and legitimacy of governments in accordance with the will of the people are the achievements of the current civilization made at a heavy price.
The president said certain powers who advocate globalization and the new world order can be introduced as neocolonialists, because they ignore the role of the nations, cultures and civilizations.
The new world order has the same relationship that the old colonialism had with neocolonialism. The West resorted to colonialism to get out of the crisis at the outset of the current century, but, this hegemonic policy has jeopardized coexistence, and culture of dialogu as well as balanced cultural exchange, the Iranian president said.

He said, "We should think about the root-causes of hegemony and domineering.
We also consider the developments in the Western civilizations and the philosophical parameters which demonstrate a new outlook towards the world and human being, technology and social science.

President Khatami said, "Unfortunately, in the contemporary era, the image of the West and the world civilization have suffered serious damage, but, on the other side of politics there is a philosophical and scientific system which should be recognized and employed through dialog and logic.
This is what the contemporary thinkers and intellectuals are responsible for." At the outset of the 21st century, scientists and great scholars define life above the narrow framework of material and see human being greater than the cage of nature, the president said.
He said the modern human being has broken the boundaries of the nature and think beyond the nature so that a religious intellectual is a man who loves humanity and have a sense of responsibility toward the destiny of the human beings, wisdom and freedom.
President Khatami said a religious intellectual is one who thinks of promoting himself and regards any obstacle in the way of his promotion as counter-freedom.
"I present my outlook from an Islamic community (Iran), a community which has made great progress thanks to the great Islamic Revolution and the enlightening guidance of the (Iranian) religious and political leaders. We are looking for opportunity to hold dialog," President Khatami said.
President Khatami said the French thinkers are vanguards of thought and culture in the contemporary era and they are expected to take great steps to provide the humanity with answers to questions, consistent with civilizations.
President Khatami Thursday evening underlined the need for safeguarding the Islamic values saying that a nation is able to stand on its own feet who is capable of defending its spiritual values in today's world.
He made the remark in a meeting with Iranian nationals residing in France as well as Iranian students here. Present in the meeting were also journalists dispatched from Tehran to France to give coverage to President Khatami's visit to the country.
The president called on the Iranian youths to recognize the main principles of the Islamic and Iranian identity and make efforts to strengthen them.
Referring to the Iranian residing abroad as representatives of the Islamic Republic, he stressed that Iran today, through the blessing of the Islamic Revolution, is moving towards a bright and prosperous future.
President Khatami further paid tribute to the founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Imam Khomeini and said that the struggles of the late Imam and his exile to different countries including France by the former Iranian regime were the source of awareness and growth of the Iraniann ation.
Despite their development, the developed countries are facing numerous problems, the Iranian president said underlining the need for making use of positive achievements in a way not to face the problems of the developed world today.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine reviewed Tehran-Paris ties as well as the latest regional and international developments.
Expressing satisfaction with the growing trend of Iran-France relations, Kharrazi called for making use of the existing potentials in both countries in order to further expand bilateral ties.
France is serious in expansion of ties with the Islamic Republic, Vedrine stressed adding that Paris is trying to remove the existing obstacles to promotion of bilateral cooperation.
He further expressed happiness over the current visit of the Iranian delegation to Paris and said that French nation eagerly follow up the meetings between the two countries' senior officials.
Meanwhile, Iran's ranking officials who accompanied Iranian President in talks with French officials evaluated ways of strengthening and expanding economic cooperation between Tehran and Paris.
Iran's Minister of Roads and Transportation Mohammad Hojjati Wednesday told IRNA that in a meeting with French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot, they have reached agreement on Iran's purchase of locomotives and airplanes from France.

Hojjati added that Iran is to purchase 100 locomotives from France within an agreement worth of $200 million.
Technical know-how for manufacturing of these locomotives is also to be transferred to Iran.
He said that 80 out of the 100 locomotives would be manufactured in Iran.

Delivery of purchased locomotives is to take place next year, thus enabling Iran to double its current capacity for transporting of passengers and goods.
Hojjati also referred to an agreement to purchase 40 airbus planes for $480 million with their delivery to start on 2001.

Hojjati also said that an agreement of cooperation has been signed concerning flight safety and standardization between directors of Iran's and France's airline organizations.

Before his return home on Friday, President Khatami during a press conference offered his government's outlooks toward important national and international issues.
He said his visit to Paris had been in the direction of the already good relations between Iran and France, and added that as the result of his visit to the French capital Iran and France would further broaden their relations tothe benefit of relations between Iran and the European Union.

President Khatami said France is a major European trade partner with Iran with good political relations between the two.

Referring to his proposed dialog between culturesa nd civilizations, he said a global effort should be undertaken to ensure a confident execution of the project.
Asked to comment on the official behavior with members of the quasi-cult of Bahais in Iran, and on their alleged persecution in Iran, he said allegations of misbehavior with or persecution of certain groups in Iran is the product of extensive lobbies for those groups internationally.
He said the Iranian Constitution disallows any sort of pressure on any person for his ideological convictions.
The constitutional principle, he said, is to ensure all citizens of their citizenship rights. He said as a president elected by the people he is committed to defending the rights of the citizens of the nation as nationals of Iran.

President Khatami said the Iranian Constitution recognizes four religions as officially-recognized religions in Iran.
He added, the rest of religions and cults in Iran are not officially recognized but, he observed, this does not mean that adherents to those religions and cults are not recognized as natural-born citizens of Iran.
President Khatami commented also that despite the presence in France of five million Muslims the laws of the state in France do not recognize Islam as one of the officially recognized religions in that country. He also observed that as chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, He expected that Islam be given recognition as an official religion in that country.
Asked on whether Iran has economic relations with countries with which it did not have diplomatic relations, he said Iran does not have any restrictions for business with world countries including the United States. Khatami said Washington had unilaterally adopted sanctions against trade with Iran, and tried to impose its decisions on other world governments. But, he said, the fact that the U.S. had not been able to enlist the support of other world governments in that connection was evidence of the fact that the world had long since left behind the era of a unipower and a unipolar world system.
President Khatami said economic relations are independent of political relations. He added when it comes to buying from other countries, the Islamic Republic thinks of its own best interests, and decides independently.

He said the Islamic Republic had never said that it did not have cultural or economic relations with the United States.
He added the first loser in U.S. trade sanctions against Iran have been the United States and the American companies which, he said, have been pressuring the U.S. government to lift the sanctions against Iran.
President Khatami said if a nation should happen to face a closed door, and if, too, it should happen to have wisdom and discretion it would be able to provide for its own sustenance consistent with its own best interests.
Asked to comment on his trade and economic agreements with French officials, Khatami said economically, France is a major trade partner with Iran, and added that Iran and France already have a wide range of agreements in the area of oil and gas.
He said agreements had also been entered into with Paris for buying French-made locomotives, a number of air-buses, and for developing mutual cooperation in the area of telecommunications.
He said Coface' Insurance Company should lift restrictions against Iran, and observed that in its Third National Development Plan (2000-2005), Iran had stressed non-oil exports to other countries, including France and Europe, and looked forward to the elimination of obstacles on that way.
Asked by MBC on the present status of Iran's relations with Iraq, he said the Algiers Accord had been accepted by both countries, and added that Iran had asserted that the accord as well as other resolutions of the United Nations and international conventions would have to be carried out.

He said Iran defends the territorial sovereignty of Iraq and would not condone foreign intervention in that country, "on the other hand," he said, "We advise Iraq to act consistently with the resolutions of the United Nations, and do not offer foreigners (foreign powers) a pretext for imposing pressure on Iraq." Asked to comment on the official position of Iran toward the issue of Hezbollah of Lebanon and Occupied Palestine, he responded that all Palestinians should have a sayin self- determination, the fulfillment of which condition, he said, can offer expectations for a lasting peace in the Middle East. He said Iran has no role with the Hezbollah of Lebanon, and added that their decisions, whatever they may be, are their own.
President Khatami returned home yesterday.




©Copyright 1999, Tehran Times
Original Story

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