11 September 2001>News Stories>Khatami lays into Taleban and US

Khatami lays into Taleban and US
BBCNews . 14 October

Khatami: The US and the Taleban are arrogant

Iran's President, Mohammad Khatami, has lashed out at both the Taleban and the United States for the suffering they have caused the people of Afghanistan.

Mr Khatami was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency (Irna) as saying the Afghan people were victims "in the hands of ignorant and tyrannical rulers who are, in the name of Islam, exporting violence, war, murder and drugs to the world".

But he added that they were also "the victims of bombs and missiles of powerful countries that seek revenge for a criminal act by making these defenceless people homeless or by killing them".

He was quoted as telling the Canadian ambassador to Tehran that the US and the Taleban were as bad as each other.

"Two superficially opposing voices are heard in America and Afghanistan, which in fact are the two sides of the same coin.

"One says whoever is not with America is a terrorist and the other says whoever does not accept this behaviour is an opponent of Islam and a proponent of America."

"Such false and arrogant judgements are the root cause of violence and terror as well as war," Mr Khatami said.

Peace and justice
The president, speaking at an international contest on reading from the Koran, denounced the Taleban for using Islam's holy book "for political and tribal means".

He said peace and justice were the message of Islam, and that "Islam and the Koran must not be used as instruments for propagating violence, terror and destruction".

Iran, a long-time foe of both the United States and of the Taleban, has condemned the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington DC.

But at the same it said the campaign against Osama Bin Laden, the United States' prime suspect in the attack, should be carried out by the United Nations.