Tuesday, September 5, 2006
NEW YORK — Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami said Monday that U.S. forces should remain in Iraq until that country's fragile government can assume greater control.
In an interview here during his first trip to the United States since leaving office a year ago, Khatami said, "We can't leave this newly formed government at the mercy of terrorists and insurgents."
Khatami is a moderate Islamic cleric who was president from 1997 to 2005. By law, he could not seek a third consecutive term. He was succeeded by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-line fundamentalist.
Despite the change in the leadership, Khatami said that Iran is not the enemy of the United States and that the two countries share strategic interests in Iraq and Afghanistan.