US grants visa to Iran's former leader

The United States has issued a visa to Mohammad Khatami, the former Iranian president, to visit next week.

    Khatami will not meet any US officials during his visit

    Tom Casey, the US state department spokesman, said on Tuesday that the visa allowed Khatami to make a private visit that would include giving a speech at Washington's National Cathedral next week and attending a UN conference in New York on September 5 and 6.

     

    The Shia Muslim cleric would be the most high-profile Iranian to visit the US since Washington cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1979 when 52 Americans were held hostage at the US embassy there after the Islamic revolution.

     

    "The visa for former president Khatami was issued approximately an hour ago and that is in keeping with the functions that he had outlined," Casey told reporters.

     

    Khatami's reformist government ceded power last year to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president.

     

    Washington accuses Iran of being the chief "banker" of international terrorism and of attempting to build a nuclear bomb.

     

    Casey said there were no restrictions on Khatami's travel while in the United States and that US visas were also granted to several members of his entourage.

     

    However, no meetings are scheduled between US officials and Khatami, he said.

     

    While the United States views Iran as a state sponsor of terror, Casey said, the United States did not see all of its citizens as "terrorists" themselves.

     

    "This is an opportunity in part for former president Khatami to hear the concerns of the American people," Casey said. "He is going to get some tough questions."

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Curate an art exhibition and survive Thailand's censorship crackdown in this interactive game.