Hundreds of German Lawmakers Protest Khatami Visit
Accusing Iran of human rights violations, German lawmakers presented a petition Wednesday urging their government to cancel next week's visit by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, reported The Associated Press.
Eike Hovermann, a lawmaker for the governing Social Democrats who was among the appeal's 175 signers, urged Germans to join Iranian dissidents in protesting the visit, said the agency.
The invitation sent the wrong signal because it "stabilizes the ruling system" in Iran, he said.
Some 300 members of state parliaments also signed the petition, with support from both the governing center-left parties as well as the opposition, Hovermann told a news conference.
Khatami, the first Iranian head of state to visit Germany since the 1979 Islamic revolution, is to meet Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, other officials and German business leaders during a three-day visit starting Monday, said the AP.
Schroeder's spokesman rejected the petition, added the agency.
"Our aim is for the visit to strengthen reform forces in Iran," Uwe-Karsten Heye told reporters.
"The visit is supposed to be a starting point for that."
Ludger Volmer, a foreign ministry official, stressed that German officials would talk to Khatami "very intensively about human rights."
Khatami has sought to revive contacts with Western Europe.
Relations were frozen after a German court in 1997 ruled that the 1992 shooting death of four Iranian dissidents in Berlin had been ordered at the highest level in Tehran, said the AP.
But signers of the petition, who account for about a quarter of parliament's lower house, charged he was a "puppet" of a regime that suppresses political opponents and uses torture in its jails, added the AP.
The petition cited repeated condemnation of Iran's Islamic rulers by the United Nations for reported mass executions, torture and stoning, according to the agency - Albawaba.com
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