Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Khatami calls Hezbollah a symbol of resistance

Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said on Sunday Hezbollah was a symbol of Arab resistance and that groups or nations fighting oppression could not be equated with terrorists.

Khatami said there was a difference between those who ”strive for the territorial integrity of a country and those who kill only to kill.”

His comments, through an interpreter, came in reply to a student question after he delivered a speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy school of government.

He called Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in Lebanon this summer and is classified as a terrorist organisation by the United States, ”a symbol of Arabic resistance”.

Washington has accused Iran of arming Hezbollah guerrillas. Hezbollah was founded in 1982 and waged a long guerrilla war to evict Israeli forces from Lebanon. Its recent fighting with Israel was sparked after the group kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.

Khatami, a cleric who was Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005 and was considered a reformist, also denied Iran financed terrorist groups, contradicting assertions by the United States.

Replying to the same student, who repeated allegations that Khatami’s government had financed terrorists, Khatami replied: ”Are you sure I gave hundreds of millions in aid to terrorists? I assure you this has not happened and will not happen.”

It was not clear if Khatami was referring just to his own government. He did not mention what policies his hard-line successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, might have toward Hezbollah.

The speech in Cambridge on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, marked the end of a controversial five-city visit that included stops in Washington and New York.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney did not allow state police to escort Khatami as police would normally do, after calling his planned speech at Harvard ”propaganda”.

About 200 protesters crowded outside the Kennedy School and one child held a sign with a picture of New York’s World Trade Centre — destroyed in the September 11 attacks — and ”Remember This” written underneath.

President George Bush has called Iran part of an ”axis of evil” but said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal his administration issued Khatami a visa to travel in the United States because he wanted to hear his views.

Khatami is the highest-ranking Iranian to visit Washington since the United States cut diplomatic ties after student radicals held 52 Americans hostage during the 1979 revolution. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

R270m ‘housing heist’ bid deprives people of decent homes

After alleged attempts to loot Eastern Cape housing funds, 39 200 people in the province will continue to live in atrocious conditions

Cabinet reshuffle not on cards yet

There are calls for the president to act against ministers said to be responsible for the state’s slow response to the unrest, but his hands are tied

More top stories

R270m ‘housing heist’ bid deprives people of decent homes

After alleged attempts to loot Eastern Cape housing funds, 39 200 people in the province will continue to live in atrocious conditions

Stolen ammo poses security threat amid failure to protect high-risk...

A Durban depot container with 1.5-million rounds of ammunition may have been targeted, as others in the vicinity were left untouched, say security sources

Sierra Leoneans want a share of mining profits, or they...

The arrival of a Chinese gold mining company in Kono, a diamond-rich district in the east of Sierra Leone, had a devastating impact on the local community, cutting its water supply and threatening farmers’ livelihoods – and their attempts to seek justice have been frustrated at every turn

IEC to ask the courts to postpone local elections

The chairperson of the Electoral Commission of South Africa said the Moseneke inquiry found that the elections would not be free and fair if held in October
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×