Former Iranian President to Visit UVa

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner
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September 6, 2006

Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami will speak at the Rotunda before a invitation only audience. With the climate of the U.S.-Iranian relationship, his visit has stirred quite a bit of controversy.

"The United States with all of its might and resources, side-by-side with the good people of the Middle East, bring about a new experience of Democracy," said Khatami via an interpreter.

It's language like that won former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami the favor of the U.S. during his eight years in office. He has been touring the United States with stops like this one outside of Chicago on Saturday. However, with Iran's current nuclear situation and his visits proximity to the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, not everyone has been welcoming.

"In no way is it appropriate for him to be welcomed to Harvard University to speak to us on Sept. 10 on the topic of tolerance," said Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Khatami was President of Iran from 1997 to 2005. His visit comes at a time when the United States is pushing for the United Nations to levy sanctions on Iran for violating Uranium enrichment laws. It is such talk that Khatami feels has caused the U.S. bad sentiment in the Middle East.

"From going to a language of threats to switching to a language of rapprochement and understanding of mutual understanding, the United States can have a better position in the region," he said.

Many students we talked to on the Corner feel the U.S. should welcome Katmai's visit.

"I think he has the right to speak here, he has the right to be here and I think we will benefit from his speeches," said first-year Tyler Duke.

"If he is willing to come here and just share his opinions and possibly change people's minds and open peoples eyes to a new view than I think it's really good," said second-year Erin Harrison.

Khatami is due to speak here around midday. He will then head up to Washington D.C. where he is speaking before an invitation only crowd at the National Cathedral. His visit will also include stops in Boston and New York.

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