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Blair and Khatami discuss response

President Khatami told the UK Prime Minister that he condemned the attacks on the U.S.
President Khatami told the UK Prime Minister that he condemned the attacks on the U.S.  


TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian President Mohammed Khatami has held an unprecedented telephone conversation with Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Tehran Radio said the conversation took place on Thursday when Blair phoned the Iranian president to praise Iran's important role in fighting terrorism.

The pair spoke by satellite phone as Blair made a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States on Thursday where he is due to visit New York and Washington.

As well as discussing terrorism, state-run Tehran Radio also reported that Khatami told Blair that Iran is concerned about any hasty plans the developing U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition might have to attack Afghanistan.

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"Carnage must not be answered with carnage. The people of Afghanistan should not be attacked," Tehran Radio quoted Khatami as saying.

"Even though the Islamic world and the West have their differences on a range of issues, such as the issue of Palestine, they are one in their condemnation of terror attacks such as those last week on the U.S."

The call was the first high-level direct contact between Iran and a major Western power in many years.

In London, a Downing Street spokesman told the Press Association that the prime minister had previously written to the Iranian leader, but they had never spoken before.

As he arrived in New York, Blair hailed his mid-air conversation with the Iranian president as evidence that Islamic nations were joining the international coalition against terrorism and those responsible for the suicide hijackings.

He told reporters flying with him: "I have just put down the phone after a conversation with the President of Iran and that in itself was a remarkable conversation.

"But not simply did he give his fully solidarity in terms of what had happened to the USA and his strong condemnation of terrorism, but he also said how important it was that out of that we rebuild the relationship between our two countries as well."

Blair added: "It was a conversation I could not have imagined having some weeks ago."





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