It was with this mind set and approach that President Khatami took the initiative of establishing dialogue with the American people. He relied on the two peoples to foster mutual understanding and remove misperceptions and mistrust. And with that he elevated the level of discourse between Iranian and American people from engulfment in daily politicking to dialogue and mutual enrichment between two cultures and civilizations. In spite of wide reactions within the United States and elsewhere in the world to President Khatami's interview, its magnitude and depth are yet to be fully grasped.
President Khatami followed the initiative of launching people-to- people contacts by opening a new door in his gathering with leading American and foreign journalists in New York last week, by announcing that Iran will not block the participation of American business community in Iranian economic projects. This, for our part, paves the road for economic engagement.
In other areas, there are other important issues of global concern where Iran is prepared to participate actively and constructively. I wish to stress three important areas: the international campaign against narcotics, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
Iran is on the front line of the global war on narcotic trafficking. We concurred in last week's meeting on Afghanistan that the war is becoming ever more dangerous and deadly as Taliban, with their official patronage of drug lords, are gaining more territory in Afghanistan. This is a fight that requires massive resources, political will and international cooperation and coordination.
The same resolute determination is required in the fight against terrorism. It is evident that all should condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and regardless of its victims or perpetrators. We certainly do so. As we have seen time and again, this is not a menace that could be eradicated through accusations, politically motivated statements or coercive measures, and can only be tackled through serious, global and transparent cooperation, depriving all terrorists, and I underline all, of opportunities to carry out their deadly game. We detect some signs that such cooperation may be emerging, we welcome it, and we will always be ready for it. As a step in this direction, Iran and Russia issued a joint statement on terrorism on Saturday, which inter alia indicated our agreement that States should not give safe haven to terrorists or allow or acquiesce that terrorists and their associates use their territories to instigate, plan, finance or support terrorist activities in other countries. We also declared our commitment to become party to international instruments in this regard at the earliest possible time. Let me underline that international cooperation of this sort can be instrumental in eradicating this global problem.
Finally, the threat of weapons of mass destruction can only be removed by eradicating them. While we have already made good progress on biological and chemical weapons -- and Iran has been and will remain an active participant in all these arrangements, agreement on the total elimination of all nuclear weapons is yet to materialize. The recent tests in South Asia have shown the urgency of this global imperative, but at the same time underlined the necessity of international cooperation to prevent a fading of the credibility of the non-proliferation regime. Iran has indicated its readiness to actively contribute to the Task Force to strengthen the NPT. And as a preliminary step, Iran has been promoting the idea of nuclear weapon free zones.
Let me conclude by stressing that the end of the cold war has provided an opportunity to move beyond old conceptions of exclusion and confrontation and define new outlooks and policies on the solid foundations of dialogue and understanding. Iran has taken the initiative in spearheading the global campaign to promote this in words and deeds. We invite all others to seriously consider the imperative of taking far-sighted practical steps to break away from old mentalities and practices.