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Injustice breeds terrorism, says Iran's Khatami

"In Western culture, there are many things we can take advantage of, and one of those is democracy," Khatami said.

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Mohammad Khatami
Justice and Rights

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said on Saturday injustice and inequality were breeding terrorism and violence such as the 2001 Sept. 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center.

"Terrorism will always be born in an unjust world ... Injustice is not only for Third World countries. If there was justice, the Twin Towers would not have collapsed," Khatami said during a developing nations summit in Caracas.

Nearly 3,000 people died when hijackers crashed two passenger planes into the World Trade Center in the 2001 attacks. The 110-story twin towers collapsed shortly afterward. The hijackers were linked to Saudi-born Islamic militant Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group.

Khatami joined host Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and others for the two-day Group of 15 summit meeting to discuss energy cooperation between member states to fight poverty.

The G15 brings together 19 nations from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Khatami, a moderate who promised freedom of speech and rule of law in Iran, has come under fire recently in Tehran from reformist parliamentarians disappointed by his failure to stand up to hard-liners.

The United States and the European Union criticized a recent Iranian parliamentary poll after a hard-line clerical body barred 2,500 mainly reformist candidates from standing. The election left Khatami and his cabinet facing a hostile parliament in the struggle to reform the Islamic Republic.

"In Western civilization and culture, there are many things we can take advantage of, and one of those is democracy," Khatami told G15 delegates through a Spanish interpreter. "Democratic thinking is very advanced and human rights thinking is very progressive."

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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