Khatami to Haaretz: No Chance of Talks Between Iran, Israel

Former Iranian Pres. says solution to Arab-Israeli conflict requires Palestinians to be allowed to return to homes.

DAVOS - Former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami told Haaretz Saturday that there was no chance for talks between Iran and Israel. Speaking after a session at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Khatami said a solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict must be found that would allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and establish a Palestinian state.

During the session, he attacked the involvement of foreign powers in the Middle East, especially the United States. He called on Middle Eastern countries to reach a solution without outside involvement.

However, he also said that relations with the U.S. were very important, but slammed leaders he said were trying to force their will on others just because they were bigger.

He said Iran was also big, and no problem in the Middle East would be solved without its involvement.

Khatami was apparently alluding to statements by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at Davos over the weekend. Livni said a Palestinian state that would arise as the result of a peace agreement would be a new state in the region, since there had not previously been a Palestinian state connecting Gaza and the West Bank, and therefore there could be negotiations over its borders.

Khatami also said that when he was president of Iran, there had been a taboo against talks with the U.S., but that now the situation is different, and that opportunities between equals were opening.

The secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, told Haaretz that the Arab world supported the Arab peace plan, and he did not intend to change it. When asked what changes could be made in the plan so Israel would accept it, he said if Israel wanted to make changes, it would have to clarify what it was willing to give in exchange.