Dr. Kamal Kharrazi (Photo: former.president.ir)
A better understanding of Iran and Islamic Revolution seems to be emerging. The fixated and frozen images are crumbling. Iranophobia is on the retreat and anti-Iranian commodities are no longer marketable in the market place of strategy and politics. The election of President Khatami reopened the eyes of the world to the realities of today's Iran and cleared the dust that had covered the air for two decades. This, of course, was only natural. The image of Islam -- the religion of compassion, tolerance and justice, and the name of Iran -- the cradle of civilization and culture, as well as the positive role of true Islam in the daily lives of Iranian people and their government could not for long be obscured under a campaign of misinformation and defamation.
The OIC Summit in Tehran was indeed a turning point as it provided an opportunity to enhance common understanding among Muslim states and to rejuvenate efforts towards peace and permanent friendship and a momentum for a more friendly environment.
On the bilateral level, Iranian-Arab relations are improving on a rapid pace. Our relations with all Persian Gulf Arab states are evolving to a solid bind, in line with the strong wish and desire of our nations. Our ties with Saudi Arabia are serving particularly to strengthen security and stability in the Persian Gulf and the Muslim world at large. Let me reiterate here the invitation issued last week by President Khatami in the General Assembly to countries in the Persian Gulf to embark upon the formation of a security and cooperation arrangement in this area.
You have all seen the steady progress in Iran-Europe relations. As you are aware, there has been a tremendous amount of economic relationship with the European countries. The political interaction, however, had lagged behind for some time. Reassessing the indispensable role of Iran, Europe seems now to have prepared itself for a fuller engagement in all areas including political relationships. We have welcomed this, as we too believe that Europe's role in promoting peace and security in the region can be useful. And I believe there is a lot of potential that together we can and will explore.
Interest in Europe and elsewhere in investment in Iran is rapidly growing in all areas including in the oil and gas sector. Several major downstream and upstream projects in the oil and gas field are on the table for participation of European, Russian, Canadian, Japanese and other major oil companies. Negotiations are being held to prepare long term contracts on exploration, marketing and transit, including pipeline projects. Iran is also involved with its partners in discussions in the areas of mining, heavy and light industries, telecommunications, road and transport, and other fields. Our Administration is making the necessary adjustments to facilitate and protect foreign investment. This constitutes a major component of President Khatami's recent economic revitalization program.
The United States in the meantime is still struggling to appreciate and adapt to the new realities and is stagnated in revising its policy and approach. The new tone of Secretary Albright's June 17 statement towards the Islamic Republic and the great Iranian nation, which was later echoed by President Clinton, indicates a departure from the past. Some have interpreted these changes as representing an emerging tendency to revisit past US policies. Indeed, the real meaning and value of these new words become evident once they are corroborated by a change of American policy against Iran. This is particularly the case as the United States still speaks with multiple voices, and hence a change of tone by itself does not connote a commitment for substantive policy revision.
While we see the emergence of a new tone in the United States, old unfounded allegations are yet to cease. It is evident that prolongation of outdated behavior, and sole reliance on variation in verbiage, can simply not provide the necessary basis for an invitation to political dialogue. I must underline that Iran builds its relations with other states on independence, parity and mutual respect and behavior that undermines these principles cannot be accepted.
Following the collapse of the communist bloc, the world is fast moving away from a uni-polar international order. But, in our view, the United States political leadership remains preoccupied with cold war mentality and has fallen behind fundamental changes on the eve of the new millennium.
In her description and analysis of the US foreign policy towards Iran, Secretary Albright intends apparently to justify the wrongful past. A clear indication is the attempt to explain American support for the Shah's authoritarian regime on the pretext of containing the spread of global totalitarian influence. The US direct intervention in the 1953 military coup which resulted in years of suppression and torture and deprivation of Iranian people from their liberty and civil rights has thus been considered as exigencies of the Cold War; exigencies which gave way to prolonged presence of suppressive regimes from Israel to South Africa and from Latin America to Asia.
With same reasoning the United States continues its one-sided support of Israel which, in practice, has encouraged Israel's expansionist policies against the rightful demands and will of the Palestinians, Moslems and peoples and governments of the region. The presentation of such unreasonable rationalizations for past policies keeps the Iranian people from gaining mutual confidence in the future.