[news] Khatami warns Bush but also makes discrete overture

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2002 20:21:33 -0000

TEHRAN: By urging the United States to "wake up and change its policy on
Iran," President Mohammad Khatami has issued a warning but also made a
discreet overture toward US President George W. Bush, analysts and
diplomats said Wednesday. 

Khatami had spoken during a huge rally in the capital Monday to mark the
23rd anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution in the country. 

"Khatami has benefited from the massive anti-US demonstration to deliver
a firm message to the Americans, who in his eyes, are threatening Iran
by calling it terrorist" and by accusing it of wanting to acquire
weapons of mass destruction, political analyst Iradj Rashti said. 

"But, without giving anything away, in particular on the Palestinian
question, he gave Bush a very clear warning to change policy, and in so
doing he has opened a door for him," he adds. 

"Khatami has shown he knows how to be intransigent on principles, while
remaining moderate. He made a veiled appeal to the Americans at just the
right moment," says writer Ehsan Naraghi, who was the special advisor to
former UNESCO director general Federico Mayor Zaragoza. 

"Americans and Iranians are tossing the ball back and forth. That means
that doors are not completely closed. The tone has dropped a notch,"
said a western diplomat, stressing the relevance of comments Tuesday by
US Secretary of State Colin Powell that Washington only wanted "the best
for the people of Iran." 

Naraghi said "the Iranians make a distinction between Bush and the
American people. The Americans do the same between the elected
president, Mohammad Khatami, and the conservative members of the
regime." 

Wanting to take the United States "at its word," an influential
reformist deputy from the northeastern city of Masshad, Ali Tajernia,
has suggested a parliamentary mission to study the US allegations. 

Such a mission would seek "proof of the American accusations," whether
on "support for terrorism" and the desire to "destabilise Afghanistan,"
or on protection for members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network. 

"Today, detente is an absolute necessity in our foreign policy," he
added. 

Meanwhile, a group of 20 reformist deputies has criticised a threat by
the deputy commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards,
Mohammad-Baghr Zolghadr, to target the Gulf's oil infrastructure in the
event of US military action against Iran. 

Zolghadr, a conservative, warned Sunday that in case of "total
insecurity in Iran, preventing its oil from being exported, no other oil
in the region would be exported". 

Commenting on that, Tehran MP Meisam Saidi said "some officials make
remarks that are against our national interest and security", and he
called for "appropriate coordination between the foreign ministry and
defense ministry to prevent such thoughtless acts". 

Analyst Daryoush Abdali said "this affair carries implications at home.
There is an attempt by the conservatives to get into a trial of
strength, even verbal, with the United States. Khatami, while keeping up
an anti-American tone, which is one of the basic principles of the
regime, must avoid falling into the trap. 

"They (the conservatives) want to bring into question the government's
policy of detente," he added. 

Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, also seems to be
playing with this "rivalry" in his accusations against Iran. 

In an interview published on the BBC web site, he said that in the
entourage of Iran's spiritual guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the
revolutionary guard, there were some who had given financial and
military aid to "groups" in Afghanistan opposed to the interim
government of Hamid Karzai. 

Khalilzad added that members of the al-Qods division of the
revolutionary guard were sent to Afghanistan with a group of Shiite
Afghans trained in Lebanon and known under the name of "Soldiers of
Mohammad." 
 
Source:  The Times of India

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