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COLLECTIONSHistorical documents, Newspaper articles, Transcripts of videos and audio
TITLETranscript of interview with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
AUTHOR 1Mohammad Khatami
ABSTRACTKhatami praises American civilization, defends Iran and Islam, and laments the 'confrontation between religion and liberty which is to the detriment of religion, liberty, and the human beings who deserve to have both'; no mention of Baha'i.
NOTES This document makes no mention of the Bahá'í Faith. However, Khatami's interview with an American television station was unprecedented and is shared here as very newsworthy, even if not directly related to Bahá'í studies.

Text taken from

See also:
  1. Universal House of Justice's letter regarding this interview,
  2. a newspaper article and response from the US NSA, U.S. Bahá'ís Ask Iran's President: Does His Call for Religion and Liberty Apply to Bahá'ís?
  3. Iran slams U.N. criticism on rights as `political', and Iran's Khatami defends religious, press freedom

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, a month ago you announced that you had a historic message to deliver to the people of America. I understand that message will take the form of a short address and then we'll discuss the issues.

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. At the outset, I would like to congratulate all free and noble women and men especially the followers of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), on the occasion of the New Year. I take as a good omen the concurrence of the Christian New Year with the Islamic month of Ramadan, the month of edification and self-restraint that has been the goal of all divine prophets.

We are at the close of the 20th century, leaving behind a century full of inequality, violence, and conflict. We pray to the Almighty to enable us to begin a new century of humanity, understanding, and durable peace, so that all humanity would enjoy the blessings of life. Once again I would like to present my felicitations to all the followers of Jesus Christ, to all human beings, and particularly to the American people.

I have said earlier that I respect the great American people. In this short span of time, I wish to briefly present my analysis of the American civilization so that my remarks would not be taken as political nicety or a mere play on words.

The American civilization is worthy of respect. When we appreciate the roots of this civilization, its significance becomes even more apparent. As you know, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, there is a rock which is respected and revered by all Americans. The secret of American civilization lies in this rock. In early 17th century, those 125 men, women, and children who left England in search of a virgin land to establish a superior civilization finally landed on this rock. The reason why the American people respect this rock is that it was the place where the Puritan pilgrims first landed. From then on, the Americans celebrate the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day, thanking God for this success bestowed upon them.

The American civilization is founded upon the vision, thinking, and manners of the Puritans. Certainly, others such as adventurers, those searching for gold, and even sea pirates, also arrived in the U.S. But the American nation has never celebrated their arrival and never considered it to be the beginning of their civilization. The Puritans constituted a religious sect whose vision and characteristics, in addition to worshipping God, was in harmony with republicanism, democracy, and freedom. They found the European climate too restrictive for the implementation of their ideas and thoughts.

Unfortunately, in the 16th, 17th, and even 18th centuries, there was a serious clash between religion and liberty. In my opinion, one of the biggest tragedies in human history is this confrontation between religion and liberty which is to the detriment of religion, liberty, and the human beings who deserve to have both. The Puritans desired a system which combined the worship of God and human dignity and freedom.

This civilization was founded in New England and gradually spread to the entire America and it even clashed with certain evil trends which has caused slavery in certain states and ultimately succeeded in abolishing slavery. There were numerous martyrs who gave their lives for this cause, the most famous of which was Abraham Lincoln, the strong and fair-minded American president.

This civilization is best described by the renowned French sociologist Alexi de Toqueville who spent some two years in the U.S. in the 19th century and wrote the valuable book entitled Democracy in America, which I am sure most Americans have read. This book reflects the virtuous and human side of this civilization. In his view, the significance of this civilization is in the fact that liberty found religion as a cradle for its growth, and religion found protection of liberty as its divine calling. Therefore, liberty and faith never clashed. And as we see, even today Americans are a religious people. Therefore, the Anglo- American approach to religion relies on the principle that religion and liberty are consistent and compatible. I believe that if humanity is looking for happiness, it should combine religious spirituality with the virtues of liberty.

And it is for this reason that I say I respect the American nation because of their great civilization. This respect is due to two reasons: the essence and pillars of the Anglo-American civilization and the dialogue among the civilizations.

You are cognizant of the great heritage of the Iranian nation with its glorious civilization and culture. Irans glorious civilization was concurrent with the Greek city states and the Roman Empire. After the advent of Islam, the Iranians ardently embraced it. The blend of Iranian talents and the sublime Islamic teachings was a miracle. Without intending to deny the share of other nations in the formation of the Islamic civilization, I believe the great Iranian civilization had a major role in developing and promoting the Islamic system.

Over the past two centuries, the Iranian nation has striven to establish liberty, independence and a noble way of life. The Constitutional Movement colonialism. Ultimately, the Islamic Revolution had-and should have-two directions: First, an interpretation of religion which couples religiosity with liberty. Of course, now that four centuries have passed since the beginning of the American civilization, human experience has taught us that prosperous life should hinge on three pillars: religiosity, liberty, and justice. These are the assets and aspirations of the Islamic Revolution as it enters the 21st century.

In terms of the dialogue of civilizations, we intend to benefit from the achievements and experiences of all civilizations, Western and non-Western, and to hold dialogue with them. The closer the pillars and essences of these two civilizations are, the easier the dialogue would become. With our revolution, we are experiencing a new phase of reconstruction of civilization. We feel that what we seek is what the founders of the American civilization were also pursuing four centuries ago. This is why we sense an intellectual affinity with the essence of the American civilization.

Second, there is the issue of the independence. The American nation was the harbinger of independence struggles, the initiator of efforts to establish independence, for whose cause it has offered many sacrifices, leading ultimately to the Declaration of Independence which is an important document on human dignity and rights.

Finally, I should refer to the struggles of the Iranian people over the last two centuries which culminated in the quest for independence during the Islamic Revolution launched by Imam Khomeini. When Imam Khomeini launched the revolution, Iran was in a terrible condition. In other words, the Iranian nation had been humiliated and its fate was decided by others. You know that a remarkable feature of Imam Khomeinis struggle was his fight against capitulation which the Shah was forced to ratify making the American advisors immune from prosecution in Iran. This was the worst humiliation for our people. They rose up, fought for independence, and emerged victorious. Of course, the war of the revolution was one of words not weapons. We, therefore, endeavored to obtain a novel experience of religion and to gain independence. Both these features are salient in the American civilization and we feel close to them.

But here I have to express pity over a tragedy which has occurred. Unfortunately, policies pursued by American politicians outside the United States over the past half a century since World War II are incompatible with the American civilization which is founded on democracy, freedom and human dignity. We ardently wished that those who enforced this foreign policy were representatives of the prominent American civilization; a civilization which was achieved at a heavy cost, and not the representatives of those adventurers who were defeated by the American people themselves.

This flawed policy of domination had three setbacks: One was severe damages that it incurred upon the deprived and oppressed nations, including our own. The other setback was that it dashed the hopes of the people of the colonized world, who had placed their trust in the U.S. tradition of struggle for independence. When the policies for domination were implemented in the name of the American people, the nations lost their trust in the Americans. This represents a grave damage done by the U.S. policies on the American nation. The Third and most important of these setbacks is that what was implemented was done in name of a great people that had risen for freedom. I feel that the American politicians should realize this fact and adjust themselves with the standards of Anglo-American and American civilization and at least apologize to their own people because of the approach they have adopted.

AMANPOUR: You said that you wanted to use this interview to deliver a message to the American people. I've lived in America, and I know the concerns of the average American when it comes to Iran. And its the message that has come out of Iran for the last twenty years, the message; hostage taking, the message of death to America, the message of burning the American flag, the message that almost looks like Islam has declared a war against America and the west. Let me ask you first about the hostage crisis which is emblazoned in every American's mind. As you know, in all revolutions, the communist revolution in Russia, the French revolution, perhaps even the American revolution, the early years contain many excesses. Would you say that taking the American hostages, at the beginning of the Iranian Islamic revolution falls into the category of early revolutionary excesses?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Thank you for your question. I believe that first we have to analyze events within their proper context and with circumspection. The image of Islam which has been presented, and I dont want to accuse anyone here, has been an erroneous one. Islam is a religion which calls all humanity, irrespective of religion or belief, to rationality and logic. Islam invites followers of all divine religions to unite around God worship and all Muslims to fraternity. The Islam which we know and practice and founded our revolution on recognized the right of all human beings to determine their own destiny. It declares that relations among nations must be based on logic and mutual respect. Such Islam is enemy to no nation, enemy to no religion. It seeks dialogue, understanding and peace with all nations. One of the major flaws in the U.S. foreign policy, which I recently construed as being behind times, is that they continue to live with cold war mentality and try to create a perceived enemy. Here I dont wish to insult anyone. I know that there are quite a few wise and fair-minded statesmen in the United States, but the outcome of the interplay with the U.S. policy has shaped the U.S. policy in a manner that continues to be a prisoner of cold war mentality. After the collapse of communism, there has been an attempt by certain circles to portray Islam as the new enemy, and regrettably they are targeting progressive Islam rather than certain regressive interpretations of Islam. They attack an Islam which seeks democracy, progress and development; an Islam which calls for utilization of achievements of human civilization including that of the west.

With regard to the hostage issue which you raised, I do know that the feelings of the great American people have been hurt, and of course I regret it. Yet, these same feelings were also hurt when bodies of young Americans were brought back from Vietnam, but the American people never blamed the Vietnamese people, but rather blamed their own politicians for dragging their country and its youth into the Vietnam quagmire. The pressure by the American people terminated that senseless and inhuman war. In fact the American people themselves brought that war to an end.

The feelings of our people were seriously hurt by U.S. policies. And as you said, in the heat of the revolutionary fervor, things happen which cannot be fully contained or judged according to usual norms. This was the crying out of the people against humiliations and inequities imposed upon them by the policies of the U.S. and others, particularly in the early days of the revolution. With the grace of God, today our new society has been institutionalized and we have a popularly elected powerful government, and there is no need for unconventional methods of expression of concerns and anxieties. And I believe when there is logic, especially when there are receptive ears, there is no need other than discourse, debate and dialogue.

AMANPOUR: So, are you saying that despite the grievances that you talk about, with hindsight, if you had to do this all again, would Iran have done it differently at that time?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: As I said, everything must be analyzed within its own context. The events of those days must be viewed within the context of revolutionary fervor and the pressures to which the Iranian nation was subjected, causing it to seek a way to express its anxieties and concerns. Today we are in the period of stability, and fully adhere to all norms of conduct regulating relations between nations and governments.

With the grace of God, today all the affairs of country are being conducted within the framework of law. And as I have stated, both in domestic and foreign affairs, we shall endeavor to strengthen the rule of law in every respect.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, Americans, the average American, is familiar with one image of Iran, death to America, the burning of the American flag, and as we talked about, the hostages. You talk about a new chapter in relations between the peoples of the world. What can you say to the Americans listening tonight, to show that person that your Iran is a new Iran or a different Iran?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I say that these issues should be examined with due consideration to their root causes and various dimensions. There are slogans being changed in Iran. But, you as a journalist can ask all those chanting the slogans whether they are targeting the American people. And they would all say no. Not only we do not harbor any ill wishes for the American people, but in fact we consider them to be great nation. Our aim is not even to destroy or undermine the American government. These slogans symbolize a desire to terminate a mode of relations which existed between Iran and the United States. This is a response to that grave affront by a former U.S. defense secretary who said the Iranian nation must be rooted out. It is also a response to the downing of the Iranian airliner that killed about 300 innocent people, mostly women and children. Even if we accept that the shooting was accidental, the decoration of the commander of the American naval vessel responsible for the tragedy was indeed adding insult to injury. There is also the recent allocation $20 million by the U.S. Congress to topple the Iranian government. Our people consider U.S. foreign policy to be aimed at undermining and confrontation with itself. And, in fact, they want the death of this relationship. No one has the intention of insulting the American nation and we even consider the U.S. government as the legitimate and lawful representative American flag, which represents its nationhood, and which hurts the collective feelings of the nation. As far as I know, the Leader of the Revolution and other authorities are also not happy with this practice. There might be actions taking place that might not meet with your approval. Yet I am sure that those doing such actions do not intend to insult the American people. And we hope that actions which might be interpreted as anti-American people and nation would not take place.

AMANPOUR: You say that you want to talk to the American people. Are you prepared to sit down eventually and talk to the American government about the issues that you have just mentioned tonight that separate and divide you?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Firstly, nothing should prevent dialogue and understanding between two nations, especially between their scholars and thinkers. Right now, I recommend the exchange of professors, writers, scholars, artists, journalists, and tourists. A large number of educated and noble Iranians now reside in the U.S. as representatives of the Iranian nation. This shows that there is no hostility between the two nations. But the dialogue between civilizations and nations is different from political relations. In regard to political relations, we have to consider the factors which lead to the severance of relations. If some day another situation is to emerge, we must definitely consider the roots and relevant factors and try to eliminate them.

Firstly, I have to state that U.S. foreign policy behavior toward Iran has inflicted damages upon us. But is also had a positive effect. It caused us to mainly focus on our domestic capabilities and resources to advance our objectives. Now, too, we feel no need for ties with the U.S., especially as the modern world is so diverse and plural that we can reach our objectives without U.S. assistance. I especially feel that many progressive countries-including the Europeans- are far more advanced in their foreign policies than the U.S.. We are carrying out our own activities and have no need for political ties with the United States.

But the point is that the political behavior of governments should not deprive nations from enjoying the opportunities provided by each side. There is a bulky wall of mistrust between us and the U.S. Administration, a mistrust rooted in improper behaviors of the American governments. As an example of this type of U.S. behavior, I should refer to admitted involvement of the U.S. Government in the 1953 coup detat which toppled Mosaddeqs national government, immediately followed by a $45 million loan to strengthen unpopular foreign installed Government. I should also refer to the Capitulation Law imposed by the U.S. on Iran.

The attitude of the U.S. after the victory of the revolution has not been a civilized one. They have adopted a hostile policy against Iran. They have tried to inflict economic damage upon us, a clear example of which is the DAmato act which represents a continuation of cold war mentality and the lack of appreciation of realities to the point that they even want to impose their will upon other countries such as European countries and Japan or the allocation of the already mentioned $20 million to topple the Iranian government.

The success of our revolution has come at a great cost to our nation. And the U.S. has a major share in the cost imposed upon the Iranian nation. There is a grave mistrust between us. If negotiations are not based on mutual respect, they will never lead to positive results. The condition is that American foreign policy should abandon its instrumental rationality and stop considering adopt an approach based on communicative rationality which is inherent in the American civilization.

There must first be a crack in this wall of mistrust to prepare for a change and create an opportunity to study a new situation. Unfortunately, the behavior of American Government in the past up to this date has always exacerbated the climate of mistrust and we do not detect any sign of change of behavior.

We are looking for a world in which misunderstandings can be overcome, nations can understand one another and mutual respect and logic govern relations among states. It is the right of every nation to stand on its principles and values and have the expectation of respect and dignity from others.

AMANPOUR: Then where does this dialogue, this message to the people of the United States lead?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: When I speak of dialogue, I intend dialogue between civilizations and cultures. Such discourse should be centered around thinkers and intellectuals. I believe that all doors should now be opened for such dialogue and understanding and possibilities for contact even between American understanding between our two nations, a better future for both countries and nations may be forged.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you some specific issues that concern the people of the United States. As you know, many U.S experts say that the evidence is overwhelming, that elements of the Iranian authorities, Iranian officials, provide not only political and moral, but financial support to organizations that commit acts of terrorism, and result in the deaths of innocent women and children. If you were presented with proof and with evidence that any kind of Iranian was involved in that kind of financial support or act, what would you do about it?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: You see, this is another example of the sort of problem that exists between us and the United States. They first level unfair and unsubstantiated accusations against you. And when they propose to hold talks, they say that they want to have a dialogue with you about these very unfounded accusations. They are in fact trying to put the other side on trial.

Well, let me tell you this. We believe in the holy Quran that says: slaying of one innocent person is tantamount to the slaying of all humanity. How could such a religion, and those who claim to be its followers get involved in the assassination of innocent individuals and the slaughter of innocent human beings. We categorically reject all these allegations.

Secondly, the logic of history has proven that violence is not the way to achieve desired end. I personally believe that only those who lack logic resort to violence. Terrorism should be condemned in all its forms and manifestations; assassins must be condemned. Terrorism is useless anyway and we condemn it categorically. Those who level these charges against us are best advised to provide accurate and objective evidence, which indeed does not exist.

AMANPOUR: If you were provided with the proof that an Iranian official had used any kind of Iranian funds to reward or finance any group or individual that was involved in an act of terrorism, would you punish that person or that organization?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Certainly if I learn of any instance of such assistance to terrorism, I shall deal with it, so will our Leader, and so will our entire system. At the same time, supporting peoples who fight for the liberation of their land is not, in my opinion, supporting terrorism. It is, in fact, supporting those who are engaged in combating state terrorism. AMANPOUR: Regardless of the motive, do you believe that killing innocent women and children is terrorism, as for instance what happens on the streets of Israel?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: It is definitely so. Any form of killing of innocent men and women who are not involved in confrontations is terrorism; it must be condemned, and we, in our term, condemn every form of it in the world.

AMANPOUR: Americans say that they have reports that Iranian officials abroad regularly engage in acts of surveillance against Americans, the sort of surveillance that could be interpreted as preceeding an attack. Do you think that is appropriate?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I deny this categorically. On our part there has been no new move, no special measures with regard to the United States in external fields; this is another false rumor spread by those who bear a grudge against us.

AMANPOUR: Iran has said that it doesn't agree with the Middle East peace process. Yasser Arafat was elected as a representative of the Palestinian legitimate aims. And he has entered into a peace process. Do you think that it is appropriate for any foreign power to engage in supporting the groups that are fighting against Yasser Arafat -- the groups such as Hamas and others?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: First of all, we have declared our opposition to the Middle East peace process because we believe it will not succeed. At the same time, we have clearly said that we dont intend to impose our views on others or to stand in their way. In our view all Palestinians have the right to express their views about their land, including the millions of Palestinians in Diaspora. They too have a right to self determination. Only then can there be a lasting peace. We seek a peace through which Jews, Muslims and Christians, and indeed each and every Palestinian, could freely determine their own destiny. And we are prepared to contribute towards the realization of that peace.

But let me elaborate a little for the American people on my views about U.S. Middle East policy. Anti- semitism is indeed a western phenomenon. It has no precedence in Islam or in the east. Jews and Muslims have lived harmoniously together for centuries. In the east, we have had despotism and dictatorship, but never had fascism or nazism. These, too, are also western phenomena, and the west has paid dearly to combat them. What concerns me is that, first, this western anti-semitism has turned into a tool for the imposition of a whole range of improper policies and practices on the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general. Secondly, I am concerned that this western dilemma may be projected elsewhere, that is fascism and nazism are suppressed in the west, they may resurface in another form in western policies elsewhere.

Obviously, Washington is the U.S. capital where policy decision on U.S. national interests must be made. However, the impression of the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain foreign policy decisions of the U.S. are in fact made in Tel Aviv and not in Washington. And I regret to say that the improper American policy of unbridled support for the aggressions of a racist terrorist regime does not serve U.S. interests, nor does it even serve that of the Jewish people. Zionists constitute a small portion of the Jewish people and have openly declared and proven in practice that they are expansionist. The Israeli intransigence in the course of the current peace process, and its failure to honor its own undertakings has enraged even U.S. allies in the region. In my view, peace can come to the Middle East when all Palestinians, Jews and Muslims alike, can determine the future of the land. That should include those living in Palestine as well as those refugees living elsewhere. Only then can a stable and lasting peace be established. Many in the world might share our view, and many may differ with us. We simply present our opinion, and have the greatest respect for all Palestinians who are concerned about the future of Palestine. Meanwhile, we believe the United States should not risk the substantial prestige and credibility of the American people on supporting a racist regime which does not even have the backing of the Jewish people.

The subject of Middle East peace is one that needs a sober and pragmatic analysis. We believe that it will not succeed, because it is not just and it does not address the rights of all parties in an equitable manner. We are prepared to contribute to an international effort to bring about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you know another concern of the west is Iran's nuclear program. Would you consider entering a special agreement, a special sort of situation with the atomic energy agency, for special monitoring, if that would lessen the fears of the people you say you want to have a better dialogue with?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: We are a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The official representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency have inspected our facilities in Iran several times, and have publicly declined that we are not planning on building nuclear weapons and only aim to employ nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It is ironic that those who are so concerned about saving humanity from nuclear weapons, fully support Israel which is a nuclear power and is unwilling to join the NPT or accept IAEA safeguards, while leveling allegations against Iran which has not even been able to complete its first nuclear power plant which began before the revolution. These are all pretexts for imposing certain policies on Iran and the region and to create panic and mistrust. We are not a nuclear power and do not intend to become one. We have accepted IAEA safeguards and our facilities are routinely inspected by that agency.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you are the president of Iran. You have made certain promises to the people of Iran, and now you have said certain things about dialogue with other countries. Can you implement your promises to the people of Iran? Do you have the authority and the room to maneuver? And in foreign policy, are you able to implement foreign policy?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Surely, after being elected, one should abide by ones promises and not to retract on them. I am determined to fulfill my promises and I believe the atmosphere is conducive and would improve day by day. Each person will carry out his tasks in his legal capacity. The President shoulders the important task of enforcing the Constitution. I have set up a Constitution Monitoring Group for the first time ever and this group is actively working to locate instances of violations or incorrect enforcement of the Constitution. We will be seriously address any shortcoming in the implementation or violation of the Constitution. And we shall succeed. Iran has one government which makes decisions on domestic and foreign policies within the framework of its duties. Of course, there are many issues that should be approved by the Parliament. The overall policies are determined by the eminent Leadership. But it is the government that has to enforce them. I feel there is no barrier along the way of the government authority and the government accepts it own responsibility. We will surely implement any policy that we formulate. It is possible that preliminary steps in certain areas might need time. But when we arrive at a policy, we will definitely carry it out. The government is responsible to carry out duties associated with its sovereign responsibilities in the society.

AMANPOUR: There is quite a lot of opposition from the conservative faction. How are you able to operate within this climate?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: When we speak of democratic government, or government of the people, it means that we accept opposition. We cannot possibly have a society with no opposition at all. Such differences of opinion are natural and they are to be found in all societies. We should learn not to allow such differences to turn into confrontation, but to direct them into their legal channels. Certainly there are elements who are opposing our government, but so long as their opposition is practiced within the provisions of the Constitution, we certainly respect them. But those wishing to impose their will against the law will naturally be dealt with through the proper legal channels. We accept both internal differences as well as any opposition that accepts the Constitutional framework, even if they openly oppose the government.

AMANPOUR: On the one hand, a lot of people want more openess, more freedom for all the things that you have even talked about. You are also appointing reform-minded ministers. On the other hand, there are still, if I could call them thugs, who are on the streets, interfering with women who they don't like their appearance, preventing certain professors from going to school. There is a confrontation. Where can you lead this confrontation?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I do not consider this a serious conflict. Of course, there are various tendencies, which were present during the elections as well. The people have made their decision. What I have said and continue to insist on is that rule of law should be paramount, and no one should consider himself above the law and try to impose his views on others. Some of these frictions are quite natural in a democratic society. Our objective is to bring everything within the framework of the law. There may be occasional irregularities and actions outside the legal framework. But we will spare no effort to institutionalize the rule of law. Of course, to begin with, we have to create understanding amongst ourselves and learn to tolerate each other. You cannot bring about understanding and tolerance in the society by force. We are determined that there should only be one government in the society by force. We are determined that there should only be one government in the society and every one must submit to the law. I think that it is universally accepted that law is the basis of social order. Fortunately, our leader fully subscribes to this view. I hope that we can take more and more practical steps for the realization of the rule of law in our society.

AMANPOUR: Nonetheless there are two factions that seem to have been identified in Iran right now. The more conservative and the one that you lead, the reform minded, the more moderate. Where do you think that Iran will be one year from now? Will there be the freedoms and openess that you have talked about?

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: Let these divisions find their meanings within their own context. Terms such as conservative, moderate and the like are more often meaningful in the West. Of course we have differences of opinion in Iran too, and one political tendency firmly believes in the prevalence of logic and the rule of law while there might be another tendency that believes it is entitled to go beyond the law. Anyway, such issues need tolerance and we must try to bring about such an understanding as to enable us to stay together while having differences of view but not let things become chaotic. Should we carefully prepare the ground for the implementation of the law in our society, there shall be no problem vis-a-vis such oppositions. I consider them natural and we need not worry about it. Of course reaching an ideal society with all its affairs in proper order needs time. We have the necessary patience, so do our people and we shall all try to move towards an orderly society where logic and law reign supreme.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, thank you very much for joining us.

PRESIDENT KHATAMI: I thank you very much and I thank all dear viewers for their patience.

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