Thursday, March 19, 2009

Brumby snubs former Iran leader

From The Age, March 18, 2009, by Barney Zwartz:

PREMIER John Brumby has snubbed former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami and will not meet him in Melbourne next week.

...Spokeswoman Jessica Harris said in a one-paragraph statement: "The Premier's Department recommended the Premier meet in response to an invitation from Professor Joseph Camilleri (director of La Trobe's Centre for Dialogue). Upon further consideration, the Premier does not intend to meet with Mr Khatami."

... Jewish Community Council of Victoria had asked Melbourne Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier not to host a private interfaith function for Mr Khatami on the grounds that he was a sponsor of terrorism and led a country that constantly threatened to destroy Israel.

Council president John Searle yesterday said the Jewish community had made no representations at all to Mr Brumby but "we are not surprised at his decision. We had reservations, and it's conceivable that he shares our reservations."

Mr Khatami is being brought to Australia by La Trobe University's Centre for Dialogue and the Australian National University in Canberra to deliver two public lectures. His Canberra itinerary is not yet finalised, though he will not meet Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, as both will be overseas.

...Also yesterday, Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth seconded the Jewish council's call to Dr Freier to reconsider his function...

Senator Troeth said Mr Khatami had made "inflammatory and racist" remarks about Israel. "He may be regarded as a reformer in comparison to other leaders in Iran, but that does not excuse the repression that occurred during his term, nor his belligerence since he left office," said Senator Troeth...

Also see our earlier posting on this subject.
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