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