TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami has criticised the government’s confrontational foreign policy, saying it plays into enemy hands and harms the country, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
“Aggressive and sharp slogans play into the enemy’s hands to hurt the country and the system,” Kargozaran newspaper quoted the reformist Khatami as saying in a speech in western Iran.
“Fighting the arrogance (the United States) should not mean increasing the costs of running the country.”
Khatami was referring to the administration of his successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has defiantly vowed to press ahead with Iran’s nuclear ambitions despite being slapped with three sets of UN sanctions.
Since taking office in 2005, Ahmadinejad has also drawn international condemnation for his vitriolic verbal attacks on Israel, which he said was doomed to disappear.
The United States, which accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, has led international efforts to halt Tehran’s uranium enrichment work — the process which makes nuclear fuel as well as the fissile core of an atom bomb.
Iran denies the US allegation, insisting it only wants to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
The reformist former president also hit out at Ahmadinejad’s administration for “presenting wrong statistics” about its economic achievements over the past three years.
There has been speculation that Khatami, who was president from 1997 to 2005, may seek a third term in office in 2009.
Ahmadinejad, who put social justice on top his agenda when he campaigned for president, has come under fire from reformists and conservatives alike for his expansionist economic policies and rising inflation.