Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami speaking at the National Cathedral in Washington on September 7 (epa)
WASHINGTON, September 8, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has appealed for better relations between Tehran and Washington during his visit to the United States.
Speaking to reporters in Washington on September 7, Khatami said the current rift between the United States and Iran should be repaired through dialogue based on "mutual respect" instead of what he called "violent language."
Khatami said he believes "there could be some ground for talks between senior officials."
He also denied Tehran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
"There were efforts to access peaceful nuclear technology under my term, and they are continuing now," he said. "Iran is a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], and according to the NPT all member countries have the right to have this technology. There are ways to control that there are no deviations. Until now, the International Atomic Energy Agency has said in all its reports that there are no signs that Iran has deviated its program toward making nuclear weapons."
Khatami is the most senior Iranian to visit the United States since Washington cut diplomatic ties with Iran following the seizure in 1979 of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
A demonstration in support of Iran's nuclear program outside the Isfahan uranium-conversion facility in Isfahan in January (epa)
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